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Sabbatical, Day 51: Clay Shirky Chapters 1-3

Not being sure how much chance I’ll get to be in range of wifi or mobile broadband signals this Monday to Friday while I’m at Lee Abbey, I’m preparing a few short posts on Clay Shirky‘s book Here Comes Everybody.

Chapter 1 We now have what Tim O’Reilly calls ‘an architecture of participation’. Human tendency to work in groups plus new social tools means vastly reduced overhead costs. Institutions won’t disappear, but their role as a barrier to group action has collapsed.

So why do we still bother putting so much energy into church as institution?

Chapter 2 Social networking sites like Flickr have reversed the old principle of ‘gather, then share’ into the much more inexpensive ‘share, then gather’, thanks to tagging. The old state versus commerce choice assumed people couldn’t self-assemble. Now through social tools they can. They can 1. Share; 2. Collaborate; 3. Take Collective Action.

This has the potential to launch a new Reformation, undermining not just the Catholic priests of 500 years ago but all authority/institution figures today.

Chapter 3 Today’s social tools with their ‘mass amateurisation’ attack professionalism on two fronts. First of all, professionals control access to scarce resources. Blogs and the like mean that in the media, resources are no longer scarce. Secondly, professional depend on the recognition of fellow professionals. That too is blown apart when everybody is a media outlet. 

What implications might this have for the professionalism we cherish in the church?