At today’s Open Book session at CACUSS 2008, you suggested we continue the conversation about books (really just big ideas) online – especially since we had spent much of the session talking about books related to information technology and social networking. So, I’ll kick things off but the success of the blog will be in your hands. Please contribute!
My most enthusiastic endorsement from the reading list was Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations. I think the phenomena described in the book have profound implications for institutions and professions, including ours. Shirky argues that web 2.0 technology has put the power of organizing into the hands of ordinary individuals – no longer do they/we need institutions (like colleges and universities) to provide the infrastructure, stability, resources to bring people together. They can find each other, and accomplish things, quite easily in environments like this one. We experienced that today when we spontaneously made the decision to create this blog, rather than make a formal request to the CACUSS board to create an organizationally-supported discussion board. Talk about a teachable moment!
I think one important point I didn’t make, but should have, is that Shirky is not a “technology for technology’s sake” cheerleeder – which is why I think I enjoyed this book so much. He continually reinforces that human beings are social creatures – that’s what this whole shift is all about: “…mere tools are not enough,” he says. “The tools are simply a way of channeling existing motivation.”
That said, I’ll keep this post short and ask you to comment with:
- Questions, insights about this book or any others we reviewed in the session
- Mini-reviews, recommendations for other books
In addition, I’d like to invite my fellow panelists – David, Heather and Tim – to post short versions of their reviews as well.