Clay Shirky Talk – London ICA Feb 4, 2008

Just back from Clay Shirky’s talk. I’ve been following him for years, so it was great to see him live.

Notes taken on my phone, typo beware!

Today – launching softback edition of book and updating thesis since then (incl recent events includig Obama). “speculative”

“group action just got easier” So what happens when u lower the cost of doing these things

3 weeks ago – international taking off pants off on mass transit day!!! (and keeping a straight face) — the event had no special technology but was only made possible by technology

It’s tough to get a group to do anything … Traditionally required public sector (if social cause) of private sector (if profit motive) – pants off day , neither public nor private motives but cost so low it was possible to take place anyway

  • ryerson study group on facebook. Student charged, uni’s model is a newspaper publishing results and many students will be leeching.

students model-just a regular study group, updated for modern tech.

  • the thing facebook is most like … Is facebook! How do we update academic culture to take advantage of these possibilities. There’s no easy way out of consolidating these two mindsets. The changes will come bottom-up.

Thai fashion student. Article about fly fishing iphone game. If you ask why would she write it, answer is “she’s not speaking to you!” and why not wrote it, it’s cheap.

So then she was the first to post the coup. Everyone was watching and her next post was about a hello kitty iPhone!!!! She’s not a professional journalist and doesn’t want to be one, but she committed an “occasional act of journalism”. But an occasional act times a billion people …. !

Obama. In 2006 a black president seemed impossible. Always a sense he was noble cause but not going to get anywhere. The “yes we can”. Will I Am music video set in peoples minds the thought it might be possible.

The artist never asked obamas permission and nor was be asked to do it. But u could say the permission was there implicitly by certain things released as creative commons and also by the whole ethos of the campaign Which made lots of media available. In contrast mccain campaign wanted complete control eg provided quotes to cut and paste. plenty of obama media like that.

“sing for change” shows the republicans can play this game too…screw up by an obama supporter but no-one blamed Obama. Those days are past, when the organisation was held completely responsible for the actions of a supporter.

Obama site v functional, mostly for organising groups to ** take action **.

Group “pres Obama, pleaase get FISA right” groups popularity meant that obama had to respond.

The big question now is, will he govern like he campaigned. Change.gov launch the day after he got in …. Said “wisdom of crowds”

no. 1 issue was legalisation of marijuana. Clearly special interest group pressure.

Question and Answer

Q How to build org when lieutenants don’t want to, want command and control?
A One way is to Find pressure from outside eg Obama can try to rely on pressure from the media to stop senators negotiating insanity. “institutions at homeostatic”

Q Codes of conduct for social media in public spaces
A The “invisible college” – historic concept of practices of reporting and conducting research.

Q ??? A Doesn’t matter that people can game Digg because of just a media outlet and people can leave it and go elsewhere. but u can’t easily change countries. So still not solved how u can take voting seriously.

Q By can’t we learn from open source mechnanisms?
A Gov mechanism that works best is benevolent dictatorship. Linus, jimmy Wales, guido. Because there’s always the threat of forking of the project goes astray. Again, we can’t easily switch governments of move. Moving from the Uk to France is harder than switching from openbsd to freebsd.

Q New business models that will emerge from the current crisis?
A Sanger and Linus exceedingly modest when introducing their products (ie predictions – hard to say). P2P models for money (eg prosper.com – lending from small groups, typically people who know u and will watch u like a hawk). these models – based on emotional connection – may be more accurate than algorithmic models. “mutualisation”. The big questions whether states will support it.

Q Diff bn fisa and marijuana example.
A Fisa result – in a group that opted in, during a campaign. Once u have to govern u have to govern everybody.

Q Role for Holders of cultural content at museums.
A Smithsonian project uploading to flickr. Only got 6000 images out. The tech is available, the institutional change is the key concern. Every day, meetup.com gets someone in their design dept to watch a user working ok their website. Similarly museums etc should do the same thing,low key.

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