20 Replies Latest reply on Sep 24, 2009 1:41 PM by deac001

    Here Comes Everybody

        • Here Comes Everybody - Chapter 1: It Takes a Village to Find a Phone

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            • Re: Here Comes Everybody - Chapter 1: It Takes a Village to Find a Phone

              Chapter 1: It Takes a Village to Find a Phone

               

              Silly me! I have long envisioned myself to be a social networking lurker. Always reading and reviewing other peoples’ social networking pages, blog postings, and comments. But through a slow techno-erosion, my lurker’s carpet has most definitely been slid out from beneath me. I now realize how incredibly involved I am in using technology to communicate on a daily basis (so please don’t take away my cell phone and text messages).

               

              Reading Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky makes society’s growing dependence on technology more apparent than ever. The social impact of group communication made available by today’s technology goes far beyond the obvious Myspace and Facebook pages. We use mobile phones, camera phones, text messages, instant messages, emails, blogs, wikis, laptops, and more to amplify group efforts, distribute information, and express opinions. The recent presidential election is just one example of this power of group communication – falsehoods were called out quicker than ever, millions of campaign dollars were raised online, voters frequently received text message updates, and opinions were posted online while speeches and debates were occurring live.

               

              In the first chapter of Here Comes Everybody, Shirky tells the story of a lost cell phone and how one man used the Internet to create an “architecture of participation” (as referred to by Tim O’Reilly) which resulted in a collective effort to retrieve the phone and vilify the person who had found it and initially refused to return it. While this story can be debated relative to the fairness regarding the parties involved, the phenomenon illustrates how people naturally tend to work in groups and if you give people “more of a reason to do something, they will do more of it, and if you make it easier to do more of something they are already inclined to do, they will also do more of it.” (p. 20)

               

              So I ask, why don't more educators apply this natural tendency to elevate student learning? Many students are naturally inclined to use social networking tools, and educators can leverage that tendency to their advantage. By making the tools more accessible in the classroom, students may use the tools to collaborate more readily and contribute more extensively to group efforts. We are in the middle of a “Tectonic Shift”, as Shirky calls it. Technology-enabled group formation has resulted in collapsing most of the barriers to group action, “and without those barriers, we are free to explore new ways of gathering together and getting things done.” In this new paradigm, 21st century students must be able to synthesize academics with their natural tendencies to communicate with their peers. But how? I suppose that’s more of the overriding question at this point.

               

              This book may or may not support this early hypothesis or answer the how question, so I’m off to read the next few chapters to find out. I look forward to your thoughts and comments – even if you’ve already finished the book. In fact, maybe you can provide your own hypothesis or ignite group action by taking a stab at, “But how?”

               

                • Re: Here Comes Everybody - Chapter 1: It Takes a Village to Find a Phone
                  blancaedu

                  Mary,

                   

                  How truly excited am I to finish this book. I'm trying to make sure I read one chapter at a time so that I can focus about the topic in question and make some educational comment but NO! I am totally full of emotion and inspired by the observations that Clay Shirky makes. The power of the social network is, in effect, what the community makes it. Setting limits and/or placing constraints on it does change dynamics and ultimately "takes away the freedom" that communities need to evolve in the first place. The first chapter also goes into some detail about why the world couldn't just survive on the goodness of social collaborative actions, that companies like Microsoft do have to pay people to collectively work and that most of that money is spent paying managers to manage managers, etc. What social networks have allowed people to do is to not only choose but define who they are by choice. Think about high school cliques for example, most of those cliques were defined by others who put labels on individuals, at times without knowing who an individual was. Today's youngsters have the ability to define who they are and what they want to belong to, not where someone else wants to put them.

                   

                  The story about the phone was fascinating and funny at times. I actually lived in Corona and it's a relatively small place so I envisioned the woman being someone who might be related to someone I might actually have known. How crazy!

                   

                  As far as education, the story about social networks to me, has to do with control (who controls the information), but it's also about policy. If the FCC does not come out with a statement about social networks and their use with minors, it is hard to imagine that states or districts would take the responsibility of interpreting a law on their own. People are afraid of being sued. When you cannot control what a community, or a school, or a child, will do, it may seem that saying "no" and placing limitations on the use of something is easier than finding a way to work through it. My feeling is that as mobile phones become personal computers, and as they inundate markets, the inability to control their access to information, will ultimately force policy, and maybe not for the better. (Flashback to Orwell's 1984.) Preventing a problem is always easier than fixing a problem. It is true in when you talk about maintaining computers, maintaining your health, and balancing your life and it will be true in this case as well.

                   

                  I do believe that social networks will transform the ability of people to make significant changes in the world. "When we change the way we communicate, we change society" (p.17). Globally, we all "speak" for lack for a better word, the same language. As humans, Shirky states, "sociability is one of our core capabilities". Humans have always relied on group efforts to survive. As our society has progressed, we have stayed connected with others as best we could, by mail, by phone, by email and mobile phone. "We now have communication tools that are flexible enough to match our social capabilities, and we are witnessing the rise of new ways of coordinating action that take advantage of that change, (p.20)".  Social networks have already begun to transform our world, and they will continue. How we make this less intimidating to people who have not embraced it yet, but hold the power of the law in their hands?That is my question...

              • Here Comes Everybody - Chapter 2: Sharing Anchors Community

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                  • Re: Here Comes Everybody - Chapter 2: Sharing Anchors Community

                    In Chapter 2, Sharing Anchors Community, Shirky talks about how Flckr and other social networking tools allow spontaneous information sharing outside of the corporate paradigm, and how society is using technology to redefine the role of traditional managerial oversight and communication. The recent U.S. presidential election drives home this “power of the online community” point and easily fits into Shirky’s discussion. The use of the Internet during the election to counterattack ads, distribute information, raise money, voice opinions, capture a worldwide audience, and form a grassroots movement was simply not possible a few years ago. Clearly, the Internet amplifies the voice of the people.

                     

                    After reading the chapter, though, while I understand the freeing nature of the Internet to expand collaboration and to blur, or sometimes obliterate, traditional communication channels, I think the Internet offers much more than this innate social gathering and communication aspect. Technology also serves to reinvigorate “traditional” structures as well, and I think Shirky underplays that facet of today’s online community. Shirky’s discussion parallels other discussions about Internet memes, viral videos, and similar “Why that one?” discussions. No one has any solid answer for what captures online attention yet – just observations.

                     

                    So, clearly, the Internet gives voice to “the little guys” and brings many voices together, but the same tools can also effectively strengthen the “big guys.” The Internet promotes unstructured and structured groups and communication models. The last sentence of the chapter sums up Shirky’s theme, “Now that group forming has gone from hard to ridiculously easy, we are seeing an explosion of experiments with new groups and new kinds of groups.” He does build up to this statement, but he does so by focusing predominantly on spontaneous group forming, while basically ignoring the fact that experimentation is also being conducted by businesses, educational institutions, and governments. This leaves a bothersome hole in the discussion. And, not to be a total stick in the mud, but doesn’t society have a long history of forming new groups in new ways with new impacts? Maybe Shirky's leading up to more, or maybe I’m just missing his point, but, to me, this chapter seems to miss the bigger picture.

                      • Re: Here Comes Everybody - Chapter 2: Sharing Anchors Community
                        blancaedu

                        Mary,

                         

                        Thank you for your observations. As I read, I didn't really think about how Shirky ignored the fact that big businesses too, are using these tools to work more effectively, and I agree with what you write in your post - he does totally ignore that area. And although Shirky may or may not be avoiding the conversation about big business to avoid having to deal with additional conversations and topics, the whole idea that people (and businesses) have the ability to connect, communicate and work in different ways today versus "yesterday" and do, should be included in this chapter and is missing. He brings up big businesses only to describe how large transaction costs have affected the ability of businesses to delve into large, primarily social concerns, and why big businesses have NOT tried to control masses of people, it would be financially impossible. Shirky does give some good examples about how the acceptance of nontraditional forms of media (and media output) by the overwhelming majority has changed the way we look at information. I believe it has made us more aware of the different biases that are inherent in information translated by human beings. In all my life I don't think I've ever been so aware.

                         

                        I am enjoying reading his chapters so far even though they seem to be specifically concentrated on the loosely structured personal social networks like Facebook, mySpace, and NING (I'll mention it here since I haven't seen it mentioned yet). I am also more educated now about the reasons why social networks form. Shirky talks about three types of group activity that seem to be reasons these networks form: 1) to share information and create awareness, 2) to act as cooperators and collaborations in the creation of "something" and 3) to work together for the common good of the community in what he says is collective action. In terms of these networks in education, I surmise that 1) sharing of information is like the old days when you only had static webpages that presented information to parents, students and community members... 2) creating and collaborating is having students and teachers using tools like Google Docs to create documents and presentations and 3) collective action is students learning about what is affecting their earth today and finding ways through research, conversation with others to fix it

                    • Here Comes Everybody - Chapter 3: Everyone Is a Media Outlet

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                      • Here Comes Everybody - Chapter 4: Publish, Then Filter

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                        • Here Comes Everybody - Chapter 5: Personal Motivation Meets Collaborative Production

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                          • Here Comes Everybody - Chapter 6: Collective Action and Institutional Challenges

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                            • Here Comes Everybody - Chapter 7: Faster and Faster

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                              • Here Comes Everybody - Chapter 8: Solving Social Dilemmas

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                                • Here Comes Everybody - Chapter 9: Fitting Our Tools to a Small World

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                                  • Here Comes Everybody - Chapter 10: Failure for Free

                                     

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                                    • Here Comes Everybody - Chapter 11: Promise, Tool, Bargain

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                                      • Here Comes Everybody - General Comments

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                                        • Here Comes Everybody - Conclusions

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                                          • Re: Here Comes Everybody
                                            tdiener

                                            I'm probably posting in the wrong place, but I don't know where else to make this suggestion. I am a big fan of audio books. I listen to audiobooks everyday on my two "plus" hours a day in the car.  Its an enjoyable way to get my "reading" in. I could not find any of the three books under discussion as an audio book, perhaps someone can point me in the right direction. (I'd really appreciate if one of the future book selections were audio books.)