Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Here Comes Everybody Part 1

I have a review copy of the new book by Clay Shirky 2008 Here Comes Everybody Penguin.

I was going to read it cover to cover and then review it. But it's such a good book that I thought to express my responses as I go through it page by page (ok, few pages at a time).

It is written in a very engaging style and the first page that pulled me up was 17.

There is an assertion he makes that is interesting:

"When we change the way we communicate, we change society."
You have to test assertions like that.

If we look back at the history of changed ways of communicating is there evidence?

Was writing so important. Did those long boring inventories in the ruins of Babylon change that society?

How did the printing press change society?

Is this Middlemarch and the reach of the telegram translated into the 21st century? What of radio's influence in the 1930's, television, tapes and CD's.

Is society so changed? Do the have nots stir? Are communications changes always accompanied by social upheaval? Can common humanity ameliorate the effects?

The questions this simple sentence offers us also predicate social and economic upheaval.

The Battle for Seattle, McSpotlight, Al-Qaeda, Cyber assault against Estonia in 2007 and a host of threats against the systems for delivery.

The sentence has much more to it.

With all our modern systems for communication, are the starving fed, the poor rich?

Do new communications always have to divide peoples?

Do new communications always benefit an elite?

Was it really new communications systems that brought about these ills? Or would they be there without them? Are we really going to see society change, by that I mean, is it inevitable that evil will be exposed again as a consequence of the introduction of there new forms of communication?

Is ubiquitous interactive communication different?

So far, it does seem to be different. There seem to be sets of values that spread through these channels that provide checks and balances that past systems for communication did not seem to have.

Transparency the sword and scales wielded by ubiquitous interactive communication may yet have a part in this saga.

The book has to return to this theme.