Clay Shirky: 2 ‘mustreads’ voor professionals en organisaties

Here Comes Everybody

‘Here Comes Everybody’ van Clay Shirky is ronduit indrukwekkend. Sta me toe om uitgebreid zijn woorden voor zich te laten spreken. Het uitgangspunt is:

“Groups of people are complex, in ways that make those groups hard to form and hard to sustain; much of the shape of traditional institutions is a response to those difficulties. New social tools relieve some of those burdens, allowing for new kinds of group-forming, like using simple sharing to anchor the creation of new groups. (25)”

Tot nu toe werden zaken georganiseerd door de overheid of door de markt alsof er geen ander alternatief was. Maar die is er wel. Het wegvallen van de kost van transactie, maakt dat mensen makkelijker samen komen “– so much easier, in fact, that it is changing the world (48)”

Maar die nieuwe groepen worden geconfronteerd met nieuwe issues, die niet enkel door ‘social tools’ op te vangen zijn:

“Collective action (…) is the hardest kind of group effort, as it requires a group of people to commit themselves to undertaking a particular effort together, and to do so in a way that makes the decision of the group binding on the individual members. All group structures create dilemmas, but these dilemmas are hardest when it comes to collective action, because the cohesion of the group becomes critical to its success. Information sharing produces shared awareness among participants, and collaborative production relies on shared creation, but collective actions creates shared responsibility, by tying the user’s identity to the identity of the group.” (51)

Meer toegespitst op professionals, luidt dit als volgt:

“Most professions exist because there is a scarce resource that requires ongoing  management. (…) the scarcity of the resources itself creates the need for al professional class. (…) In these cases professionals become gatekeepers, simultaneously providing and controlling access to information, entertainment, communication, or other ephemeral goods.” ( 57)

“The key to any profession is the relations of its members to one another.(…) Q.Wilson (…): ‘A professional is someone who receives important occupational rewards from a reference group whose membership is limited to people who have undergone specialized formal education and have accepted a group-defined code of proper conduct.’ (…) a professional learns things in a way that differentiates her form most of the populace, and she pays as much or more attention to the judgment of her peers as to the judgment of her customers when figuring out how to do her job. (…) Professionals see the world through a lens created by other members of their profession.”(58)

En Shirky waarschuwt:

“The professionals are often the last ones to see it when that scarcity goes away. It is easier to understand that you face competition than obsolescence.” (59)

De manier waarop professionals mekaar vinden, is dus wezenlijk gewijzigd:

“Now the highly motivated people can create a context more easily in which the barely motivated people can be effective without having to become activists themselves” (182)

“The enormous visibility and searchability of social life means that the ability for the like-minded to locate one another, and to assemble and cooperate with one another, now exists independently of social approval or disapproval. (…) Sorting the good from the bad is challenging in part because we’re used to social disapproval making it hard for groups to form.” (207)

En hoe het verder moet met de nieuwe tools:

 “Communications tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring. The invention of a tool doesn’t create change; it has to have been around long enough that most of society is using it. It’s when a technology becomes normal, then ubiquitous, and finally so pervasive as to be invisible, that the really profound changes happen.” (105)

“As a result, the important questions aren’t about whether these tools will spread or reshape society, but rather how they do so.” (308)

Cognitive Surplus

Met ‘Cognitive Surplus, Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age’ gaat Shirky een stap verder dan in ‘Here Comes Everybody’: we hebben met zijn allen heel wat vrije tijd en dankzij internet en digitale technologie kunnen we zonder veel moeite noch kost onze creativiteit en goede wil aanwenden om de wereld te veranderen door samen te werken en te participeren in indivdidu-overschrijdende projecten (bv. Wikipedia).

Enkele interessante bedenkingen voor professionals:

“Curiously, an organization that commits to helping society manage a problem also commits itself to the preservation of that same problem, as its institutional existence hinges on society’s continued need for its management.”

“Groups tolerate governance, which is by definition a set of restrictions, only after enough value has accumulated to make the burden worthwhile. Since that value builds up only over time, the burden of the rules has to follow, not lead.”

“Organizing groups into an effective whole is so brutally difficult that, past a certain scale, it requires professional management. Professional managers in turn require salaries, and salaries require income and bookkeeping and all the rest of the trappings of a formal organization, meaning there is a huge step between a bunch of people who really care about some issue and an organization of people who really care about that issue and work together to do something about it.”

Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, ISBN 978-0-14-311494-9
Clay Shirky, Cognitive Surplus, ISBN 978-1-59420-253-7

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