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Posts Tagged ‘shirky’

Shirky on small worlds

Posted by selinalock on 19 September, 2008

The small worlds project at the University is partly inspired by ideas from Clay Shirky’s “Here comes everybody” book.
This is my summary of his ideas on online communities as small worlds:

  • Small worlds network consists of small groups that are densely connected and large groups that are sparsely connected.
  • Links between different groups are through a few “highly connected” people – does this mean our small world advocates need to have the potential to become highly connected?
  • Communities work on the idea of social capital (see: Putnam, bowling Alone for more info)
  • Small groups are held together by bonding social capital e.g. super glue because they know the same people and do the same things.
  • Bridging social capital is what connects different groups together e.g. WD40 – helps grease the wheels between different ideas.
  • Studies showed that people who bridged communities (e.g. had connections outside their immediate Department) were more likely to come up with interesting new ideas.
  • Social networks and ideas such as OpenSource software work on social captial – ie. if I take care of you now then someone will take care of me later.
  • Online social tools work on three principles: 1. A promise (what promise will make me joing the network) 2. Tool (how will the network communicate) and 3. Bargain (what will I get out of this and what will other expect of me).
  • The promise is what convinces a potential user to become an actual user e.g. flickr promises free photo hosting and sharing.
  • Tools have to be easy to use and fit for purpose so that they do not present barriers to users.
  • The bargain cannot be fully determined in advance as the users help create it – they decide on the group values and etiquette.
  • “The important questions aren’t whether these tools will spread or reshape society but rather how they do so.”
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    Posted in Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

    Shirky & Librarianship

    Posted by selinalock on 19 August, 2008

    Close-up Dodo!So, I’ve just finished reading Here Comes everybody: the power of organizing without organizations by Clay Shirky. (see amazon & UoL library) and I’ll be doing several posts about ideas discussed in the book.

    Shirky argues that a scarcity of resources creates a profession, for example, librarianship developed as a profession due to there being few libraries and many users.

    With regards to newspapers he also argues that they don’t yet realise that they’ve become obselete as “the web didn’t introduce a new competitor into the old ecosystem…the web created a new ecosystem”. The same argument can be applied to librarianship, as the web has totally transformed the way people get information. It is no longer a scare resource that requires professionals to organise it in order for people to access it.

    Not a new concept to librarians, as we’ve been arguing over whether our profession is dying for at least the last decade! However, I find it interesting that one of the main thrusts of Here Comes Everybody is the way that internet applications are completely changing the information and communication culture, which is obviously going to impact on how and what our jobs are.

    “The more an institution or industry relies on information as it’s core product, the greater and more complete the change will be.”

    I think in the forseeable future there will still be a place for traditional librarian skills, as we will still need people to organise and care for our print collections…but what about those of us whoose users are rapidly moving away from print and library resources?

    Shirky argues that in the past the price of print publishing meant there was always a systems of filter then publish, with the net the system has become publish then filter. Where do librarians fit into the new system? Have we become obselete without noticing?

    Posted in Research Support, Service Delivery, Subject Support, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »