The title of this post comes from a quote by Seb Paquet in the book Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. This book is situated somewhere between the simplicity of Wikinomics and the complexity of The Wealth of Networks, which makes it a welcome addition to the field of social networks. Shirky’s analysis is excellent and is not just a repeat of the echo-chamber of the blogosphere. For example:
When we change the way we communicate, we change society. (p. 17)
You can think of group undertaking as a kind of ladder of activities, activities that are enabled or improved by social tools. The rungs on the ladder, in order of difficulty, are sharing, cooperation, and collective action. (p. 49)
It’s when a technology becomes normal, then ubiquitous, and finally so pervasive as to be invisible, that the really profound changes happen, and for young people today, our new social tools have passed normal and are heading to ubiquitous, and invisible is coming. (p. 105)
I saw social tools in action this week, when a parent/lawyer in Saint John, NB, was interviewed on the radio concerning the abolition of the early French immersion program in the province. The interviewer asked her what was the best way for other concerned parents to get involved. Her answer, “Facebook”. We now have tools for ridiculously easy group-forming, and these are being used at the local level by non-techies. Indeed, social media are getting close to “normal” even for those who are not so young.
Two groups on Facebook concerning EFI in NB (what Shirky would describe as “sharing”) have over 2,000 and 3,000 members respectively. The EFI Day of Protest has 104 Facebook members registered at this time (what Shirky would describe as “collective action”). As you go up the ladder, it requires more commitment, and you don’t get as many members. It’s interesting to watch this phenomenon and I’ll update the stats as time goes on, as well as confirm the actual numbers on the day of the protest.