Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody organizes online group undertakings “as a kind of ladder of activities that are enabled or improved by social tools.” And, he says, “the rungs on the ladder, in order of difficulty, are sharing, cooperation, and collective action.” Ok, I follow this.
He also states that: “The hallmark of a revolution is that the goals of the revolutionaries cannot be contained by the institutional structure of the existing society. As a result, either the revolutionaries are put down, or some of those institutions are altered, replaced, or destroyed. We are plainly witnessing a restructuring of the media business….”
I also buy this, and agree more the viewpoint he describes of philosophers who point to “a distinction between a difference in degree (more of the same) and a difference of kind (something now)” and how “what we are witnessing today is a difference in the degree of sharing so large it becomes a different kind.”
In symbolic terms, I read this as 1+1=3 (not in communist terms, but instead as a representation of how the sum of parts can be greater than…yeah, yeah…)
As I read his text, the underlying theme is clear to me:
New technologies enable us, but take us only so far; our mainstream adoption and our applications of them to how we organize really creates change.
So now, maybe I’m just getting to into semantics (or feel an urge to defend my blog topic), but the rungs on a ladder analogy implies that sharing is the least important. In most of his examples (wikipedia, VOTF, Meet ups, flash mobs, Passenger Bill of Rights) he highlights the cooperation and the collective action as the key players in these “revolutions.”
I’d like to also shine the spotlight how vital the sharing is too. Instead of a ladder, I think a pyramid shape would be better because the foundation of all of these is sharing. I liken it to the physiological platform on Maslow’s pyramid. Sharing is imperative before we cooperate or act. We need it first, before we can actualize anything.
Just a thought…do you agree?
(I would take my options to Mr. Shirky himself, but his blog is abandoned and I’m not brave enough to email him directly. Let’s see if the finds this post. :))