Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky

Professor Clay Shirky ( and of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program offers us this analysis of a phenomenon which has rapidly become a feature of modern life – social media.

Shirky argues that Web tools are now flexible enough to match and shape human social relationships. He shows we are flattening organisational cultures while assembling “rungs on the ladder” of participatory culture: sharing, co-operation and collective action. Here Comes Everybody (2008) is filled with powerful and passionate stories of excitement, change and involvement. For example, a handful of kite hobbyists scattered around the world find each other online and collaborate on the most radical improvement in kite design in decades. An American professor of Middle Eastern history starts a blog after 9/11 that becomes essential reading for journalists covering the Iraq war in the field. Activists use the Internet and e-mail to bring offensive comments made by Trent Lott and Don Imus to a wide public and hound them from their positions. An online encyclopaedia created entirely by volunteers and open for editing by anyone (Wikipedia), becomes the first resource for anyone wishing to know just about anything. Jihadi groups trade inspiration and instruction and showcase terrorist atrocities to the world, entirely online. A wide group of unrelated people swarms to a Web site about the theft of a cell phone and ultimately goads the New York City police to take action, leading to the culprit’s arrest.

The essential point to understand in all this, is that the story here is one of social transformation not merely technical development. Don’t get swept aside by this social transformation.

Enquire at your local library or consult for full bibliographic detail. After reading the book, you’ll naturally want to jump onto social media to see what people are saying about it!

352 pages in Penguin

First published 2008

ISBN 978-0141030623

Professor Clay Shirky

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