Sabbatical, Day 52: Clay Shirky, Chapters 4-6

A few more thoughts from Shirky today.

Chapter 4 Economically, old media filtered information, and then published. Social media does the reverse: the process is now ‘publish, then filter’. And whereas one could do small things for love and big things for money, it’s now possible to do big things for love. People are no longer passive consumers, they are symmetrical producers. 

‘Publish, then filter’ has enormous implications for our instinctive desire to want things we don’t like banned. How do we cope if things we don’t like are already out in the wild?

How might we ‘do big things for love’?

It’s easy to treat church members and others with whom we ministers come into contact as passive consumers. Some are happy to be treated that way (especially in a consumerist culture). But what about those who want to be symmetrical producers? 

Chapter 5 Wikipedia works on the ‘publish, then filter’ principle. Hence criticism of errors, but Wikipedia is a tool (wiki) plus community, and it ‘self-heals’ on this ‘publish, then filter’ basis. It is a process, not a product. There is an unequal distribution among the contributors – a ‘power law distribution’ whre a few make a lot of contributions, and most people only make one contribution. This works, because people have a non-financial motive for contributing.

Often we complain about the ‘power law distribution’ in churches, where a small group of people do most of the work. But in the world of social media, this isn’t a bad thing. Discuss!

Chapter 6 Social tools and the Internet have made it easier for protest groups to assemble and campaign. It’s not so much about the latest technology, but about using that which has become commonplace.

This should be good news for the Church. TEAR Fund deploys its SuperBadger campaigns this way, but they are centrally driven. Maybe more might rise up from the margins.

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