Tag Archive: Clay Shirky

If you’ve been keeping up with the recent posts, you’ve noticed that I’ve been reading “Here Comes Everybody” by Clay Shirky. Well now I’m done. Good read. If you have ever wondered about the things that people do, especially within the age of the internet, then you should pick this up.  Read the first chapter while you’re standing in the bookstore, I bet you’ll walk out of there still holding it (while hopefully paying for it).

To wrap up the book, I’ve learned many things.  I’ve learned about the internet and some obscure stories that were interesting and some stories that have affected the lives of millions, if not billions.  One thing I found at the tail end of the book gave a little bit of insight into business and people as well as the business of people.  It was a simple process of analyzing failure.  Failure isn’t something we can just cut out of our lives.  “You win some. You lose some.” “It’s not about whether you get knocked down. It’s about whether you get back up.” “Everything tastes better with ice cream.”  Not sure if last one holds up as well as the first two, but you get the point.  These clichés exists because they’re true (though ice cream could be argued against).  People as a whole have come to terms with failure.  The next step is how do we find the successes?

Business had failure down to a science.  Business has to do it that way in order to avoid it.  Maximize success while minimizing failure.  That sounds like as good a slogan as anything else.  But what do we miss out on while trying to minimize failure? Minimizing failure takes priority over maximizing success.  It’s too expensive to have big failures.  And that is where the solution laid.  Business was afraid of the rate of failure.  Too many for too long and you get no where, except broke. If you can’t affect the rate of failure, because failure happens, then maybe something can be done with the cost of failure.  That was the method of the internet: free collaboration.  And the internet is big enough to have everything happening at once.  There is lots of room for failure, lots of room for success too.

Another point of interest is the communities on the internet.  Three are communities that are strong enough to control the programs they exist within.  There were a few examples, but they all showed one thing.  Social capital can and does exist in the internet.  It showed how members of a community see themselves as that, members.  As such, certain members can be showed a higher level of deference by others.  Inside jokes can form and bond these members.  Also, many people find themselves within these niche corners of the internet finding people they just like talking too.  These niches expand to cover the members rather than just the topic.  People come together under an idea, but they stay because of the people there.  This allowed the people to control the programs.  The community was more important than the topic.

Here comes everybody.  Everybody seems like infinity. It has a meaning, but it can’t really be conceptualized.  But once you realize all the things that exist, and all the things that people do.  You start to understand that “everybody” is a whole hell of a lot of people.


Clay Shirky proposes a lot of interesting concepts through his book “Here Comes Everybody.” The latest one to pique my interest is the ultimatum game.

The ultimatum game establishes a scenario where two individuals are given with an option. The first is given the sum of $10 to be separated in any fashion between the two. The second has the choice of accepting the first’s offer or rejecting the offer where neither would gain anything. The simple math is that the first person would maximize his or her gain by offering $9.99 to him or herself, while giving $.01 to the second person. The second person should be happy with anything since anything is better than nothing and accept the offer. That isn’t what happens. People don’t like getting the short end of the stick, even if it is better than having no stick. Fairness is a simple concept. Children go around claiming the fairness of things, and getting 1 cent of 10 dollars isn’t fair. So the second person rejects this offer. The experiment presented by Shirky goes on to state that people are willing to take some degree of unfairness if the gain is better than the rejection without being too insulting. The experiment he referred to stated that people were more willing to accept offers around $7 to $3. 70%-30% split is enough to satisfy the unfairness if a person has nothing invested. Good to know.

A little more than halfway through Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody.” The book has been very interesting up to this point, and anyone wishes to learn and understand more about the internet and social media should definitely check it out.

Just learned how Wikipedia came about. It was a drawn out process that culminated into the website that everyone knows. The development was fascinating as the original concept was to take experts in various fields to build an internet accessible encyclopedia. It would have a similar setup to the current incarnation, in that it wouldn’t pay these experts, but simply request their knowledge. Turns out experts don’t care to put their expertise to work on these pro-bono cases as often as the creators hoped.

So the creators took a different approach. They actually learned the wiki method from another person, but they managed to take it to a new level in a new direction. Open up the editing capabilities to the entire world. Anyone interested would be allowed to add, remove, and edit the articles. Know a little then add a little. Know a lot then add a lot. Crazy to think that the community at large could come together to produce such a network of ideas, let alone collectively build upon one another’s thoughts.

By now, most if not all, have experienced Wikipedia. The one component that draws my attention most is reinforced by its setup in the belief that anyone can contribute. Over time, I have come to the realization that everyone is an expert. Expertise may be a relative term, but bear with me as I try to explain my position. Everyone has knowledge about something. We’re not talking “leading expert,” but enough knowledge to surpass the general populous. Let us take the child sitting at home listening to music as they rage against their parents. I would bet that child possessed a set of knowledge in music that their parents would not know and could not grasp. Why should that appreciation be neglected? The kid that sits at home and plays video games knows a lot about those video games. The learning is happening, just aimed in a different direction. Should we not encourage learning in all its forms? Perhaps we can direct it towards more pertinent interests, but the first step is to understand.

Knowledge in various fields, even those that are not regularly reflected upon in a positive light by society, is expansive. If we can appreciate knowledge in all forms, we can encourage knowledge for knowledge sake. That is something that is falling apart within our society. Scholarship is falling to the pragmatism that society is requiring. People don’t go to school to learn knowledge, but to learn a skill. How do we get back to wanting to learn knowledge?