Here Comes Everybody bigger (and smaller) than ever before

Back in May I blogged about Clay Shirky‘s book “Here Comes Everybody”. I was torn: I wanted to believe that social media could indeed make the world a better place, yet my inner history graduate protested that people are people, and have communicated and interacted for good and ill since time immemorial.

In “Television may be the gin of the information age, but that doesn’t mean the web is pure water” I questioned Clay’s contention that the web unlocks a cognitive surplus previously wasted on one-way television viewing.

In “Erm, excuse me, but I think Everybody was here all along” I challenged the title of Clay’s book: surely it was the media that was late to everybody’s party, rather than the other way round.

So when David Cushman on Faster Future gave his readers the chance to ask questions for a video interview of Clay I put in my twopenceworth (as with everything here, in a personal capacity that does not necessarily represent the opinions, strategies or positions of my employer):

I’d like to know why Clay chose the title “Here Comes Everybody”? I rather thought that everybody was here all along, in that communicating and self-organising have been characteristics of human society for thousands of years. Is technology really changing people’s behaviour, or simply making existing behaviour more visible in the online space?

Thanks to David for asking my question, and to Clay for answering it so eloquently. Here’s the video…

(and David’s accompanying blog post)

Do I buy the answer? I’m not sure, though I’m pleased to see Clay’s focus on people, not technology as the driving factor. “I’m not a technical determinist…. it’s the novelty of scale, ” he says.

Make sure to watch right to the end for another gem. I love the idea that things can now happen globally on a much smaller scale than ever before, as well as at large scale in the mighty networked crowd.

Other episodes of David Cushman’s Clay Shirky interview here, here, here and here.

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