Clay Shirky's Harvard talk: Here Comes Everybody

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23 Responses to “Clay Shirky's Harvard talk: Here Comes Everybody”

  1. yish says:

    thanks! heard him at the RSA in London last week. Clay is one of those rare people who has deep and original ideas, can express them in writing so that my mother would understand them yet I would not be bored, and can give a damn good stage performance. I never saw anyone handle questions so well.

  2. dejanigma says:

    Join our Central MA Flashmob!

    Make a statement. Meet new people. Have a blast.

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    Thanks!

  3. Pyros says:

    @#8 Jack, just because I’m adept at collecting and conserving energy does not mean I’m lazy. In fact, in this age of global warming, I’ve come to rather regard it as a supreme attribute. People are as they are, and I don’t know how useful it is to categorize the mass of humanity as “lazy”. This characterization is problematic for many reasons not the least of which is that it suggests that people should be different than the way God or evolution made them. This whole Judeao/Christian industrial/post industrial notion that people need to undergo some kind of improvement is the exactly the kind of mentality that I hope we can leave behind one day. It’s like the beautiful woman who wants to be even more beautiful or doesn’t believe she is beautiful in the first place. Can’t we just accept that we are ok the way we are? In any case, people have not met some kind of ideal, it is not the fault of people, it is the fault of their circumstances. Instead of having a low opinion of your fellow man, embrace him, love him, share a beer and a game of darts.

    I’ll leave you with some words from Betrand Russell:

    “Like most of my generation, I was brought up on the saying: ‘Satan finds some mischief for idle hands to do.’ Being a highly virtuous child, I believed all that I was told, and acquired a conscience which has kept me working hard down to the present moment. But although my conscience has controlled my actions, my opinions have undergone a revolution. I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached. Everyone knows the story of the traveler in Naples who saw twelve beggars lying in the sun (it was before the days of Mussolini), and offered a lira to the laziest of them. Eleven of them jumped up to claim it, so he gave it to the twelfth. this traveler was on the right lines. But in countries which do not enjoy Mediterranean sunshine idleness is more difficult, and a great public propaganda will be required to inaugurate it. I hope that, after reading the following pages, the leaders of the YMCA will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”

  4. yer_maw says:

    where can you get those cc stickers?

  5. cniebla says:

    Really bad taken video. It annoyed me su much I had to listen to instead. On the other hand, nothing new under the sun…

  6. noen says:

    Yes, well that’s the problem isn’t it? I mean everybody also includes neo-nazis and a whole slew of “undesirable” who can now find each other, organize and have some measure of political power. I haven’t seen the video and I’ll download it later but does he address these problems too?

  7. vicko says:

    Helmingham Erchenwyne Rutter Egbert Crumwall Odin Maximus Esme Saxon Esa Vercingetorix Ethelwulf Rupprecht Ydwalla Bentley Osmund Dysart Yggdrasselmann

  8. Antinous says:

    Helmingham Erchenwyne Rutter Egbert Crumwall Odin Maximus Esme Saxon Esa Vercingetorix Ethelwulf Rupprecht Ydwalla Bentley Osmund Dysart Yggdrasselmann

    Is Cory having another baby?

  9. DAZEIN says:

    I love discussions like this and the vision to see what wide open avenues the new human experience is bringing. Collaboration and cooperating with giving up much autonomy, in fact enhancing it forcing us each individually to be more creative, competitively.

  10. Pyros says:

    I wonder how free we might become. How autonomous? My feeling is that we are quickly heading toward a world in which what we have come to think of as government or even work will hardly be recognizable. Thank god. Within our lifetimes the cataracts will be lifted, and the the horrific extent of our former enslavement will finally become apparent.

  11. Jack says:

    #7 POSTED BY PYROS , MARCH 25, 2008 5:14 PM
    Within our lifetimes the cataracts will be lifted, and the the horrific extent of our former enslavement will finally become apparent.

    Of for the love of over-dramatism, please lets end with the “enslavement” nonsense.

    I agree with a lot of what Clay is saying, but I cannot stand it when people describe current politics of whatever era they are in as enslavement.

    As a child of immigrants I have always had conflicts with other people in the U.S. who are not immigrants based on one simple fact. Most 2nd generation and above American’s are just lazy and heck. When you come from a poor place and want something better you’ll look at the opportunities in front of you and grab them. That is the foundation of my family’s—and many other immigrant families—experience; we don’t have too much shame in doing work others scoff at to get ahead.

    Fast forward just one generation and what do you have? People who do have more opportunities but rarely take them or even understand why they should.

    So the problem I see here is technology does give people more freedom… Only if they choose to use it. Remember despite all the great ways to communicate and collaborate nowadays we have a president in office who by all rights should be impeached, but he isn’t. We’re mired in a war that more people are ambivalent about than truly angry about. And unlike the energy crisis of the 1970s, people are still driving gas guzzling SUVs and assert their “rights” as citizens to drive what they want despite a crisis being at hand.

    Honestly none of these new ways of collaborating will mean anything if you still have lazy blobs of meat sitting behind the keyboards. And sadly while see the dream of greater participation, I also see the sloth of people who are technologically lazy at best.

    You want to inspire a participatory democracy? Well we’ve always had one. Just participate!

  12. Bill Simmon says:

    @#3: that’s the problem isn’t it? I mean everybody also includes neo-nazis and a whole slew of “undesirable” who can now find each other, organize and have some measure of political power.

    That’s not a problem, it’s a feature. Freedoms are only really meaningful if even unpopular folks get access to them. See the history of the US 1st amendment for examples.

    @#8: Remember despite all the great ways to communicate and collaborate nowadays we have a president in office who by all rights should be impeached, but he isn’t. We’re mired in a war that more people are ambivalent about than truly angry about. And unlike the energy crisis of the 1970s, people are still driving gas guzzling SUVs and assert their “rights” as citizens to drive what they want despite a crisis being at hand.

    You’re missing the larger picture. A citizen of the 15th century could likewise have complained that despite this new fangled printing press, Constantinople had still fallen and the Wars of the Roses were still raging and what about those darned kids today?! People were still made vastly more free as a result of the invention of movable type. The internet isn’t going to fix all of our problems, but it is making a whole hell of a lot of people much more free and in that respect, the future is bright.

  13. Pipenta says:

    Participate? You want the sheep who shop to participate? They won’t until the whole mall and TV lifestyle cant’ be supported. Nope, not until it all collapses and by then, it might just be too late.

    As far as organizing without organizations goes, the eusocial hymenopterans have got us pathetic primates totally pwnt. Ants have it down!

  14. DCer says:

    #9, Freedoms can easily get overturned when evil people collaborate. You missed the point of the comment by a mile. The Nazis didn’t make our freedom taste more free as much as they caused, directly and indirectly, the deaths of what, 30 million soldiers and civilians from across the world.

    #6, if you work with collaborative teams in the real world, you find that groupthink is a much larger danger than “competitive collaboration” is a feature. The reality is that a few people view themselves as alphas and the majority have no interest in inovating, they just want to be a member of the team and listen to mp3s.

  15. Bill Simmon says:

    @#11: Freedoms can easily get overturned when evil people collaborate. You missed the point of the comment by a mile.

    Perhaps I’m being obtuse and if so, I apologize, but I actually think you might be missing the point. #3 was a comment about how even evil people (and not just us good citizens) get access to all of the freedoms that Shirky says the internet makes manifest, and isn’t that a problem, since Nazis and others can use those freedoms to evil ends? I was responding by pointing out that the power of these freedoms is directly tied to their being indiscriminately available, so no, it’s actually a good thing that everyone (even bad people) has access.

    And since the Nazis did not use the internet to organize the killing of 30 million people, I don’t see how your point is relevant. And man, are we invoking Godwin here or what?

  16. JDubsMontreal says:

    Great talk. Thanks for the link.

  17. noen says:

    I understand your point Bill and yeah, it is a feature as you point out. On the other hand one of the technological innovations that enabled the Nazis to efficiently murder was the punched card (or it’s pre-cursor) developed by IBM. And so by way of analogy my worry is that a global communications network may enable something similar. I don’t know that this is true but I put it out there for discussion.

    Jack – read up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. While it’s true that established groups sometimes feel a sense of entitlement I don’t think that is the whole story.

  18. Fnarf says:

    Is Cory having another baby?

    No, Vicko is quoting from the “Here Comes Everybody” section of Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce, whence Cory and Clay got their title.

  19. coaxial says:

    @13 NOEN

    Well the Good Guys just have to out organize the Bad Guys. It’s just a tool. We machine that brought us the Berlin Airlift also brought us 9/11. What’s you’re point?

  20. Immolator says:

    It won’t play for me, and the video download has no audio. Is anyone else having problems with it? Is there a mirror?

    Thx.

  21. themindfantastic says:

    I think the talk not so much who is utilizing the tools for collaboration, but WHY they are using these tools for collaboration. Some tools might seem stupid and without importance and yet there are people who find they fit the exact needs they have to create groups of like minded individuals who use them for various reasons, both good and bad. To sum up… simple interfaces without bells and whistles that allow for social interaction are better than overly complex can do everything tools but break when you look at them, let alone understand them even if they have help files, this is important because quite a few times these tools are going to be used by people who don’t understand the language, but tools that can be language/culturally neutral with simple interfaces make for great tools to be used in a social context, allowing for potential communities to arise at almost any URL.

    So its not ‘Who’ benefits but rather ‘Why’ & ‘How’ they benefit.

  22. Danny O'Brien says:

    I haven’t watched the tak, but Clay does actually cover the “nazi” angle in the book: one of the key parts of it is to debunk the somewhat overwrought optimism of those who think this sort of thing is magic self-organizing utopia fairy dust.

  23. Bill Simmon says:

    @#18: Clay does actually cover the “nazi” angle in the book: one of the key parts of it is to debunk the somewhat overwrought optimism of those who think this sort of thing is magic self-organizing utopia fairy dust.

    I’m about half way through and I haven’t reached that part yet, but I did find this on a skim through…

    Concerning the political value of these new technologically engendered communication modes,

    “…the current changes are good because they increase the freedom of people to say and do as they like. This argument does not suffer from incommensurability, because an increase in various forms of freedom — especially in freedom of speech, of the press, and of association — is assumed to be desirable in and of itself. This does not mean there will be no difficulties associated with our new capabilities — the defenders of freedom have long noted that free societies have problems peculiar to them. Instead, it assumes that the value of freedom outweighs the problems, not based on a calculation of net value but because freedom is the right thing to want for society.” (pg. 298)

    The internet = more freedom, more freedom is “the right thing to want for society,” despite the attendant problems that crop up as a result of all that freedom.

    He goes on to point out that even if this were not true, there is little we can do to stop the spread of all this (internet engendered) freedom now anyway. The genie is way out of the bottle.

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