Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Here Comes Somebody

I finally read Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. It's a good book, not a great book. I think the problem with reading a book like that 11 months after it was released is that most of the ideas have already been absorbed into my consciousness. It's a much better book for someone without my vast wealth of experience using social tools. What Shirky does is establish a framework for understanding how the various tools fit together to produce a network of communication that changes the dynamics of who can be a journalist, or a software developer.

Shirky also gets deep into how this changes the dynamics of organizations.  There is a very readable economics/management paper by Coase from 1937 (for which he won the Noble in 1991) called the Nature of the Firm. In there he examines the costs of contracting for services versus hiring, which is really why the firms exist in the first place.  The technologies of the Internet seem to be changing those costs, and people that know how to take advantage of that can build better firms.

I think there is a unique intersection of trends happening right now, right in front of us that makes this a time of opportunity. It is a time when a many of the traditional solutions to problems are too slow, too expensive, and too static. It's a great time to have nothing, because you're not that far behind. It's a great time for open source. It's a great time to start something new. I am ready. Are you? Here we come.