Required reading

Okay, I’ve avoided all you folks who participate in the Facebook Virtual Bookshelf and manage to read/review several books a month. And I’m late to this book whose author gave the keynote at 09NTC. But now I’m on board and am recommending this to everyone who belongs to any kind of group!

Clay Shirky’s 2008 book, Here Comes Everybody: The power of organizing without organizations, is chock full of insights on how the social media revolution (and it is a revolution he compares to the printing press) is changing the world. If you care about community organizations, then whether you consider this change good, bad,or  indifferent, it’s not something that you can ignore, and Shirky provides new ways to frame the change that can help evaluate how your organization is adapting (or not).

Bowling Alone was the first selection on the organizational change AAUW 2008 reading list. That 2000 work from  Robert Putnam discussed how organizations have changed in the last 100 (especially the last 50) years and how important they are to the health of communities. Shirky’s book describes how bowlers aren’t really alone — they just no longer need leagues. It takes the “did you know” anomalies and explains how “cyberspace” isn’t really a separate “space” anymore — it’s a part of “real life” and organizations that don’t understand how their stakeholders can self organize are at risk.

I’ll admit that parts of it resonated with me in ways that may seem odd to those who haven’t lived in the ‘net connected, open source world since the early 80’s. The new AAUW “entities” [cf. Article XII] seem like natural alternatives to the community-based branches to me — but I am getting pushback, and I’ve no idea if the three or four ideas I’ve already thrown out will “catch.” It’ll be interesting to see if the “organizers” of the new AAUW leader corps will consider different models and if different kinds of  “communities” will grow when the right promise/tool/bargain is found. [We’ve already got cheap failures like the dust bowls of  wiki.bbvx.org and the majority of AAUW Facebook groups.]

So read the book. Or at least take an hour to watch the NTEN conference keynote or check out Shirky’s other writings.

Thanks, all.

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