Clay Shirky gave a fascinating presentation today (Oct. 3, 2007) at a meeting of the Yale Information Society Project at the Yale Law School. A lot of what he talked about will be covered in his book "Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations" that is due to appear in February 2008. Clay teaches at NYU's graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), where he works on the overlap of social and communications networks. The title of Clay's presentation was "Social Tools In Political Contexts." From his abstract:
"One of the challenges to the innovationist view of technology (tool designers pour 'innovation' into tools, which is then extracted by the users) are the way tools are adapted to local contexts. The current explosion in social tools offers an alternate view that might be called diffusionist, where local context helps determine not just the utility of social tools, but actually alters their political context. We ... look at three case studies of such diffusionism -- the use of 'flash mobs' by Belarusian protesters, the use of Twitter by Egyptian activists, and the use of flower delivery services as a protest movement against US immigration policy."Clay touched on many topics, including: LOL cats, Google Maps, EFF, Tunisian Prison Maps, PledgeBank, information cascades, David Isenberg ("The Rise of the Stupid Network"), collective action, ICQ, GlobalVoices, Genevieve Bell (Intel anthropologist), Burmese bloggers, etc. See his Wikipedia page for more information.