What I’m Reading Now

I just finished a great book. If you love learning about social media then I definitely recommend Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. Not only did I learn more about how my favorite social media sites got started (twitter, Wikipedia, flickr, etc.) but he also writes about the history of “communities” in society.

The book starts with “The Case of the Missing Sidekick” and drew me right in as I read the story of a woman named Ivanna whose sidekick is stolen. Now we all know that phones are lost and stolen everyday, but Ivanna’s case is different, as her friend Evan blogs about the sidekick and within time thousands of people are following her tale. NY Times wrote about the story here and Evan’s blog (including updates about the Sidekick Story) is here.

Shirky’s book ends with an epilogue in which he mentions how different life is for those growing up in this exciting digital age than it was when he was growing up. I realize that I take for granted my ability and eagerness to understand all things new and technical, especially when Shirky writes:

“One reason many of the stories in this book seem to be populated with young people is that those of us born before 1980 remember a time before any tools supported group communication well. For us, no matter how deeply we immerse ourselves in new technology, it will always have a certain provisional quality. Those of us with considerable real-world experience are often at an advantage relative to young people, who are comparative novices in teh way the world works. They overestimate mere fads, seeing revolution everywhere, and they make this kind of mistake a thousand times before they learn better. But in times of revolution, the experienced among us make the opposite mistake. When a real once-in-a-lifetime change comes along, we are at risk of regarding it as a fad…

I’m old enough to know a lot of things just from life experience. I know that newspapers are where you get your political news and how you look for a job. I know that music comes from stores. I know that if you want to have a conversation with someone, you call them on the phone. I know that complicated thing like software and encyclopedias have to be created by professionals. In the last fifteen years, I’ve had to unlearn every one of those things and a million others, because they have stopped being true” (Shirky, 303-304).

I never really thought of it that way — that in a sense I am lucky because I don’t have to re-learn things. I accept and underst

and the fact that twitter can be used for conversation and that facebook can be used to connect with people

and organize events. I have lived this way and it seems strange to me for anything else to exist.

So if you like social media or are interested in learning more about the way we organize and form communities has changed, check out the book and let me know what you thought!