first observations from Clay Shirky’s “Here comes Everybody”

Clay Shirky Here Comes EverybodyThis post is the sixth in a series that will be for a graduate course called Theory and Audience Analysis. For the course, I will be posting weekly questions and follow-up analysis about the various readings we are assigned. This post ponders the initial readings of “Here Comes Everybody” by Clay Shirky.

This book raises some interesting insights into how technology changes the way we define groups while also looking at how the landscape of media creation is changing. Like Benkler, Shirky discusses the ease for anyone to publish content on the Internet, and how this is changing the mass, quality and immediacy of published works. It makes you question the definition of terms like professional and amateur. The lines between the two have blurred considerably in areas of journalism and the web. There is still a hierarchy to deduce where reliable content comes from, but that doesn’t mean just “professional” outlets are on top anymore. Some amateurs have built up reputations to become valued information sources. Where is this line between the two, and when does an amateur cross over to being considered a professional? Is it all relative given the range of impact?

The example of the lost phone brings up some disturbing qualities about the swift and powerful abilities of a group of strangers that come together online for the same cause. It can be encouraging to think that users can together achieve greater things, but at the same time the devolution of conversations like the derogatory comments made on the Sasha discussion forums shows the dirty underbelly of group collaboration. Get more than two people together and cliques already start to form. Groups that work together online still encounter the issues of societal collaboration, which are at times even amplified because of the limitations of the Internet. Also what about when online groups come together to work towards a negative goal. The ideas behind group formation would remain the same, but the groups now take on a more sinister tone.

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