Book Review on ‘Here Comes Everybody’

On: September 15, 2008
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About Hannah Biemold
Artist and blogger who wrote a novel last year in the NaNoWriMo program (National November Writing Month). The book, called 'In het hooi', has been published by Uitgeverij Vuurpapier in june 2010. Hannah finished the master New Media program in 2009 at the University of Amsterdam. She wrote a master thesis on Twitter implications (twesis). Besides this, Hannah is trying to visualize ideas about the world through conceptual art, she is looking for confrontation with these borders and wants to know of they're stretchable.


Title: Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
Author: Clay Shirky
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (February 28, 2008)

On another blog I wrote earlier that after reading the first part of the first chapter of the book ‘Here comes everybody, the power of organizing without organizations’ by Clay Shirky I was curious about the rest of the book. Now I have mixed feelings about it. The examples about participatory culture that being given throughout the book are written down lively and it’s not difficult to imagine them and I think the author tries to say that these examples couldn’t have happened say, some years ago. The thing is it’s very logical and then I try to get the point. All examples are about people who do not know each other and sometimes have little in common all work together to accomplish something bigger than themselves. Some examples are a bit dramatic and out of proportion and for me very American. The book is one of more books that are being published now on social networks and web 2.0 websites, like also the author Bill Tancer did, he argues just like Shirky that society and people are changing.

Theory and communication structures

There’s also a great deal of theory on communication structures in the book. Structures on how people interact in a small group and at a larger scale, offline and online. There’s a bit of history on the phone, newspapers, broadcasting and the early Internet too, old media so to speak. Shirky writes about structures between people and the more people are in a group the more interactions are possible and what happens and what does in mean for the whole of the group. Funny things like the ‘birthday paradox’ or the ‘six degrees of separation’. What are the dilemmas in a group and what holds it together? From those perspectives it’s interesting to look again at the examples given in the book, but that would take some more time. Basically this book is about communication structures and how they work in different circumstances and then transferred to the Internet. On the Internet people can reach each other faster and more efficient and can form a group in relatively a small amount of time. There are new possibilities and communicating tools, what will happen if more people start using them? It’s good to have some tools to look at life online with, not just individual life but groups, as most people live and work in groups. So the book is also more about the implication of communication online and useful to read and think about the future of online interactions.

Active sharing of content

Most website for active sharing just offer a basic infrastructure and do not organize the users, they are organizing themselves argues Shirky. Although most of them are amateurs they do connect and collaborate on issues and situations and can take action. They tag pictures on Flickr and form a library that’s constantly being updated, they threaten traditional journalism although not all content is being viewed that much.

3 Responses to “Book Review on ‘Here Comes Everybody’”
  • September 15, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    In his book Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky wrote: “when we change the way we communicate, we change society.”

    I’ve just written a blog entry about John Abele, retired founder of Boston Scientific and leader of the Grunion expedition – a global pursuit to find Abele’s father’s World War II submarine, lost at sea in the summer of 1942. Abele’s quest for the Grunion is about the power of social networking and, to use Shirky’s terminology, “organizing without organizations.” It’s about what happens when serendipity intersects with technology and human intent.

    I think you’ll enjoy the story – it’s both inspiring and demonstrative of the power of social networking.

  • September 28, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    […] all is very well. But in order to achieve something you need a sort of a guiding hand. It is not as Clay Shirky put it today, it is not complete democratic, égalité– so how do you manage to on one hand […]

  • September 29, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    […] all is very well. But in order to achieve something you need a sort of a guiding hand. It is not as Clay Shirky put it today, it is not complete democratic, égalité– so how do you manage to on one hand […]

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