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Summary of the major theme concepts
Clay Shirky authored a book titled “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations” published in 2008 by Penguin Press. The text extensively evaluates the influence of the internet on the contemporary group dynamics. The author has considered numerous examples such as MySpace and Wikipedia in the cause of his analysis of the technological facets that have turned around the way of doing things (Shirky, 2009). According to the author, the book is hugely concerned with “what happens when a given group of people is given tools to perform things in unity without resorting to the traditional forms and organizational structures.
In his book, Shirky attempts to recount how social tools and other online software like twitter, WordPress, and social platforms seek to assist the groups looking for connection to achieve their conversation and actions in ways previously unachievable through traditional institutions and organizational structures. He argues that the advent of the internet and other technological elements facilitating online social networking can afford to create meaning without facing the common traditional constraints of time, cost and geographical space.
According to the author, online social mechanisms from around elements whose costs are perceived as high compared to the potential value derived by intuitions and groups and individuals. However, although these tools can provide numerous benefits to those utilizing them, successful creation of meaning through online tools may be achieved through implementing plausible and efficient tools at an acceptable cost in order to remain relevant in all aspects such as cost-effectiveness and usability.
Shirky argues that the major reason why the internet-based communications have tended to alter the way things happen is the negligible costs that have shifted events from filter-then publish toward publish-then filter. This process allows people to publish as much information as they deem appropriate to them even if they fail to appeal to third parties.
The ability of media to let the people organize themselves allows for the creation of materials that would have not arisen in the presence of control and management. The Flickr offers the best example of a network media that has left organizational roles to the users.
He notes that people have the innate ability to organize themselves and the underlying ideas without necessary wasting resources by providing control. While the uncontrolled use of the internet allows its users to collaborate effectively, it offers an enormous threat to the traditional structures be they dictatorial regimes, record companies because of the fear of the uncontrolled flow of information that ruins their progressive statuses.
The potential question that causes attention might be why the traditional channels are severely worried about the new informational regimes.
While Shirky raises the appetite of the reader to celebrate the potential future of the internet, it remains arguable that it presents within itself eminent challenges worth of a caution. In his book, Shirky overstates the role of the media in spinning change and progress. He cites the radio as a tool that aided the Germans more than the French during the World War.
The author argues asserts that communications tools do not get socially interesting to when they begin to get technologically boring. We have experienced much debate on the significance of the technological tools in shaping human development trough connectivity.
Often, these debates have given rise to varied and opposing views about just how important the internet tools are in the contemporary society. However, Shirky contends that these tools have remained consequential to the bigger section of the people using them for the past decade. The advent this form of communication has generated immense positive developments through reduced costs and turning around the traditional form of organizations.
In the contemporary debates about the internet, one of the most talked about effects of the increased application of the digital communications is the turmoil brought about by these tools especially in the publishing industries. In his book, Shirky manages to point out that the respective arguments about the negative contributions of the technological elements fail to appreciate the daunting effects brought by the printing press in Europe during its primary introduction in the 15th century.
Shirky identifies the tendencies of democratization of the institutions in Here Comes Everybody. Throughout the 304 pages of his book, Shirky notes the economies of scale that emanate from the smooth transitions from the traditional to modern forms of technology. In demonstrating this essence, He cites these elements as relates to the Wikipedia and other free software. He suggests that these facets have the potential to disrupt the dictatorial and aristocratic structures that may exist within the society while blurring the differences between broadcasting and conversing among groups and organizations.
The author seems naive about the expected social changes that take place in the new technological representation brought through the media as the enabler. In his book, he stresses the importance of the internet during the 1960s counterculture reactions and its historical ethos to the development of man. Throughout its submissions, the book attempts to suggest that web-based social tools as mechanisms help those single mothers seeking social relationships through online connectivity or the pro-democracy advocates who co-opt these tools to achieve their own and public interests.
Communication and socialization as the property of the society
Shirky attempts to demolish the natural sense of the concept of socialization as a notion held by organizations in their right. Contrary to his critics, Shirky observes that technological growth have aided to salvage the process of socialization and communication from the constricting sense of the hierarchical and organizational order that inhibits the free flow of information. It is worth approaching this form of argument from the Durkheimian principles of socialization and the socialization process.
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Durkheim is one of the highly acknowledged figures counted as the revolutionaries of the concept of socialization. When wide spectra of the lens afforded in the analysis of the notion of communication and the facets of socialization shall help in illuminating on the holistic nature of the process of socialization.
Communication tools should be viewed as tools for cumulative use by the society contrary to the individualized forms of ownership that denies people the elements of genuine expression. Based on the social principles espoused by Charles Durkheim, Shirk fits well with his arguable need for sociological tools necessary for social networking, especially the proletariat in order to overturn the hierarchical imbalances of institutionalization of conversation.
The author tries to orchestrate the significant role of social systems in bringing about the real change through social networks. The democratic representations of lacking a formidable social framework to challenge the status quo require a change through plausible, effective and efficient tools of communication.
In this review, Shirk allows us to ask a significant question “is the process of social change through networking a threat to the existing political ideologies and the notions of capitalism?” it is worth noting that social networking contains within itself the power to inform in a manner to oppose the expectations of the political class. Shirk is interested in examining how individuals interact on a platform more improved than before. In his analysis, he explores the advancements in technological tools have coincided with the desire to communicate effectively, this bringing about unbelievable interaction. He notes that social tools do not operate to create collective action, but rather serve to eliminate the unnecessary obstacles that tend to hamper its progress.
The book discusses how the process of removing the social obstacles leads to a completely new face of the world. This means that those elements observed as minor have the ability to distract the successful flow of information from a social context. According to Durkheim, a society required not so sophisticated tools of socialization, but rather simple, easy to use and socially friendly means to yield substantial amount of change. In a similar approach, Shirk identifies the simple changes in tools of technology and their intrinsic role in overcoming huge social problems. However, we note that societies do not respond to change through sophistication of its usable technology, but instead when it develops tendencies to adopt new behaviors based on simple infrastructures of communication and sociability (Shirky, 2009).
Processes of change always face eminent opposition and protest from wide spectra of those opposed to the change process. When simple and non-sophisticated forms of conversation and media set in, people will always protest by sustaining the traditional concepts.
For instance, scribes increased their usage before the advent of better and non-scribal modes of achieving similar tasks. In response to this change, Sponheim argued against the departure from these new forms citing the importance of preserving the scribes in the process of achieving their social goals through new methodologies. It is retrogressive to reject new and efficient forms that potentially transform the society in a myriad of ways.
The big question that arises out of this concern is “how does Abbot spread his enormous ideas? Can we achieve this objective through the print media? Shirky raises this question in his attempt to underscore the opposition elements in the process of social change by sustaining status-quo. Although preservation of traditional means of social change may still serve their purpose, the daunting challenges of the group dynamics might prove huge to be overcome by the application of traditional facets.
Shirk believes that by acquiring simple and less audacious tools, yet effective will inform every average member of the society. The future into which the society heads may not be promising by sheer imagination of the role of technology and internet without appropriate action from those involved. Just in the same way the printing press brought enormous chaos in Europe, advancements in technological growth has the potential of plunging the world into even much serious social and political problems.
Social networking as a mechanism of deterrence from exploitation
The ability of a society to achieve a formidable social system had the power to overcome the inhibiting and exploitative nature of the “powers that be” through their limiting notions of networking. To achieve an objective always presents fewer challenges as compared to the process of going it alone. Societal progress through introduction and ascendancy to amateur remains eminent in a socially coherent society. The future presents the continuity in amateurization of the process of publishing and a tendency of shift in questioning from “the why” toward asking questions of ”why not” publish this ? (Shirky, 2009).
When a population is carefully informed through an organized social framework, groups become more likely to form. Ordinarily, the provisions of an enhanced IT infrastructure create a mechanism of assured cultural reorientation and organization. Shirky notes in “Here Comes Everybody” that although such planned change can be achieved, no one can tell with some degree of certainty.
With this wealth of technological and social unification, the quiet revolution envisioned within the society brings with itself a multitude of challenge. He hints at some of the revolutionary paradoxes, which this newly established potential brings to the society. Still in his quest for a better look at the foregoing challenges, Shirky evaluates the dynamics existing between the new and the old ideologies as well as the underlying facets of social networking.
With this energy to explore the underpinnings of the elements of change, it remains unnoticeable to explain the dichotomy by which the tools of technology can possibly move the fundamentals of the society, neither does the works of the author promise an exclusive synthesis of the mechanisms of releasing the underlying tension between the old and the perceived new forms.
Unlike the political restructuring, which usually presents themselves in more wild and sometimes bloody turmoil with the immediacy to create a new political order, the social changes via the internet introduces itself through a smooth transition with unchecked comfort and pleasure while carrying within itself the convenience to the users. The authors chronicles in “Here Comes Everybody” just how the website has succeeded in modeling news of doing things, thus enabling people to moderate their activities.
The enabling sense of the technological newness is emphatically illustrated by the ability of people to get together, help one another through raising common agenda. Therefore, Shirky appreciates the facilitating nature of the internet in easing the process of group formation.
The author bluntly puts it that large groups substantially different from groups that are characteristically small. The growth of the networking has a far-reaching influence on the growth patterns in groups. Studies have shown that group orientations have successfully grown in the last two decades following the advent of social networks enabled by the internet. The text is filled with many illustrations and vivid examples coupled with excitements about, people, how, and where the process of social networking has been taking place.
The collaborative conversations have realized unity emerging out of the common differences shared by different people and cultures across the world. The author poses is concerns and worry about whether this trendy formation of online groups will surely deliver on the seemingly promising end. He does present his thought by corroborating the historical realities that define the institutionalization of the communication process through the checked mechanism. The book serves to demonstrate the divide between the immediacy and the need for embracing newness, and the potential harm that accompanies it. This elementary consortium of differing thoughts allow us to develop a creative mind and ideology capable of meeting the desired choice of socialization.
Through spirited moves to unite varied sets of groupings creates a fundamental aspect to determine the true sense of the world through networking. The new culture born of this trend challenges the capacities of institutionalized forms of communication such as newspapers in serving the social roles for which they were created. Incipient and gradual change of the internet gains much light through Shirky’s brilliant capture in his eloquent discoveries and change facets. The power of the internet lies in its ability to uncover and neutralize the authoritarian leadership. The best example that illustrates this imperative is how Shirky compares the protests and the cover-up of the Catholic priest’s case of child abuse during 1992 and 2002 (Shirky, 2009).
The underlying ten years between these two periods resulted in a huge change in which people could manage to voice their efforts and even beyond. Secondly, people across the diocese, especially in the US afforded to share material information, which provided a double-edge. This means that the power of social harmony derived from an organized group of the less powerful must remain formidable and potent in voicing change and social justice.
The author further examines the innate strength and the power of the internet tools to jump-start positive change. His representations of the Minsk flash mob of May 2006 served to demonstrate the brutal nature of governments less concerned about the needs and freedom of its people. However, there is a consensus that the most potent weapon of the less fortunate has always been the power of the voice and the free flow of information among the people sharing common misfortunes.
The case of the police hauling ice cream eaters in Oktyaskaya Square was documented through digital tools. The pictures and videos got enough space on Flickr, LifeJournal among other outlets on the internet showing images of repressive Belarus. These momentous images spread to far corners of the world indicating the “police state” that does not offer an opportunity for security, but rather spur insecurity. Arguing from Shirky’s perspective of the flexibility of the internet and the inescapable networked created therewith demands a more inclusive approach necessary for better understanding.
He argues that it is only when a technology becomes quotidian that it becomes traditionally and culturally interesting. The book offers a symbolic interpretation of the dire need for all people to engage in purposive actions to realize acceptable change. Interesting to note, Shirky d3emolishes the traditional thinking of media as a construct of the elite serving vested and minority interest while sacrificing the wider society.
Dispossessing the elite the tools of social networking denies them a lucrative form to enjoy the total benefit of propaganda driven by media elements. The implication of this force is the inability of the elite group to muscle their routine efforts to propagate social inconsistencies. Instead, the platform created by social media is sufficient and robust to turn down the corruptible minds to gain true social being. Identity is essential and voicing an individual’s identity requires the use of unshakable social network capable of spreading its meaning to all quarters of its true beneficiaries.
Shirky, C. (2009). Here comes everybody: the power of organizing without organizations. New York, NY: Penguin Books.