(As James points out, dog-earring is going through as rapid a transformation as everything else bookish these days. My latest technique with a physical book is to scan it into stickybits and then add photos as 'bits' every time I want to dog-ear something. That way you end up with a page with all the marked bits on it, including a record of where and when I was reading. (Though they aren't great pictures.) As back-up I'm also doing actual dog-earring and sticking pictures of some bits on flickr too. That's probably going too far. Pictures here will be a mixture of the two, the best ones I've got.)
I got the new Clay Shirky the other week, from an Amazon seller. It's been out in the US a little while and the fact that he's on Today this morning made me realise it's now available in the UK. It's very, very good. Just as readable and useful as Here Comes Everybody.
Here are the bits that stuck out for me:
Reading this again, just now, it made me think of this - 'cyber' is one of those signifying words - demonstrating that you think that there's a set of technology that is different to or separate from life. And of what Douglas Adams pointed out about technology and age:
"1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;
2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;
3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really."
(Though we should be careful not to conflate this observation, which feels true, with all that digital native nonsense, which obviously isn't)
That helps me. Doesn't that help you? 'Media' is such a big, wide wet bath of a word that it's hard to get out of, it's hard to think about its edges. And this doesn't make it any smaller. But pointing out that fusion of public and personal media is helpful - and helps me understand all the things we get wrong when people who think they're operating in public media bang into people who assume they're using personal media. One lot see some clever targeted advertising, the other lot see someone steaming open their letters and inserting magazine ads.
I'm not going to talk about this too much, you have to read and think about the experiments and conclusions because, at first blush, they're so counter-intuitive. It's especially important to read if you're involved in trying to get people to do anything creative or problem-solving-y. I think most of us assume that there's a continuum of reward for tasks. Or that it's additive. If we'll do Task A for free because it interests us, we'll do more of Task A if we're also offered some money. Not necessarily true. And adding money to the mix profoundly changes our feelings about the task. So, in many ways, it's not the same task any more.
This helps me understand what happened to blogging when the prospects of financial reward crept in. It changed everything. And, presumably, unless people read and understand this, it's going to happen again when new creative tools are invented.
This is huge. And it's bigger than the internet. I suspect 'creating something personal, even of moderate quality' and letting people share it is going to be one of the business models of the century. And one of the social movements. Which will be even more interesting if we can squeeze the convenience and scale of the internet into other places.
And that tells you what you need to do - satisfy a desire for autonomy, competence, generosity and sharing. Flickr does that. MyBarackObama did that. I think Newspaper Club does that. Imagine if Labour decided to redesign political activism around those satisfactions. That'd be interesting.
The most useful bit of Here Comes Everybody, for me, was Mr Shirky pointing out that any blog that gets beyond a certain audience size stops being personal and starts being broadcast. As he reminds us, More Is Different. The easiest way to misunderstand Twitter and Facebook is to take them as a single type of network. Because there are celebrities on Twitter, with hundreds of thousands of followers, people assume that's what it's for. That it's a broadcast, celebrity, mass audience tool. And while it is that, it's also a small, personal, intimate one. Private accounts, small networks.
I wonder, actually, whether this'll continue. Whether the public and the personal existing within the same channel/tool is sustainable or useful. I bet the next interesting thing will be tools for small networks.