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Sabbatical, Day 53: Shirky, Chapters 7-8

Here is the next instalment from Clay Shirky.

Chapter 7 The key battles in protest movements are the ability to grow protests without state clampdown and documenting any opposition to cause an international outcry. That was true before the advent of contemporary social tools; now those same tools that can be used for fun can be used for political campaigning, even apparently banal tools like Twitter. They have shifted the ground from advance planning to real-time co-ordination that cannot be anticipated by opponents.

This of course is what terrorists have done, too. Hence government desires to see the electronic records of ISPs. But as the church moves more to the margins of society, this means we have just as much opportunity to influence and campaign as ever, just in very different ways.

Chapter 8 Social capital has been declining, but social tools make it possible to build it up again. Services such as Meetup.com make it possible for new groups to gather, existing groups whose transactional costs had soared can meet again, and latent groups can now set up without worrying abotu social disapproval.

Professionals lose out due to mass amateurisation. Existing social bargains (e.g., ‘who are the media?) are called into question. Networked organisations are more resilient, even the more objectionable ones.

Social capital and small groups should surely be central to church life rather than institutionalisation. Is this not a way forward, especially if we need to transition into ways naturally used by generations largely missing from traditional churches?