A little book club of non-profit emerging leaders I’m involved with picked Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody as our latest book. The subtitle is very intriguing – The Power of Organizing without Organizations. With this intriguing title and Shirky’s well-respected background in social media, it was odd that most of us were disappointed (with one exception!)
I won’t try to summarize the other’s positions at all, however, I think the exception to being disappointed with the book is this: A person who truly geeks out regarding social media, social theory, and information will probably enjoy this book.
In fact that summarizes the book. Shirky takes well-known social theories such as the power distribution law and applies them to social media outlets like Flickr, Wikipedia, and Meetup. If you are looking for concrete steps on how to create social change without creating a new organization – this is NOT the book for you. If you want to think and be academic about the idea in vague terms this IS for you.
Much of what was discussed throughout the book was either common knowledge or intuitive. Another large portion is highly unlikely to happen due to the special circumstances surrounding the event.
One problem with books about social media is that they quickly become outdated. This book published in 2008, barely mentions Twitter (at the end he confesses that it just started becoming big while writing the book). I’m sure he would have written about the power of Twitter in the Mumbai bombings and more recently the Iranian election. In his defense on this section, Shirky created a blog to continue the discussion.
Finally, I found it a little dull overall. I enjoyed the stories, but some of the social theory stuff was hard to get through. I would not rush out and purchase this book, if you’d like my copy let me know!
Note: I didn’t realize until I was at the book club (only 2 people had read the book cover to cover) that my copy was an unedited manuscript. It was clearly marked “not for distribution” but somebody dropped it off at Goodwill where someone found it for $3.99 and turned around and sold it to me for $8.99 plus shipping. I felt a lot better after discovering that it was unedited because there were a lot of grammatical errors and random double words or words omitted!
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