The second part of
this post is about Clay Shirky’s great new book Here Comes Everybody. The first part is about a phenomenon I see too often in social
tools/sites/services: how many of them require way too much effort on the
part of early users or mass adoption before the average user can realize much value. That’s where the "Or Not"
part of Here Comes Everybody fits in.
I used to work for
social bookmarking and tagging site del.icio.us and one of its great features was that it was
useful even if you were the only person in the world using it – it was a better
bookmarking system, had tags, was accessible from any computer anywhere, etc. It got even better when lots of people used
it, and you could find out what was currently popular among
users, or how other people described a
site. But too often I see startups that count
on something along the lines of "IF everybody downloads this plug-in and
THEN they all start describing and marking up all the things they like, THEN
we’ll have a great service for people who want to discover new things like
that." There needs to be a lot
more focus on the value that early users get from the system, or it may
never grow to critical mass. Robert Scoble
has some related thoughts here .
Clay Shirky does a great job
explaining "the power of organizing without organizations" in his new
book. In keeping with the theme,
here’s an interesting link from Summize that shows the overall sentiment on the book (as of this writing) from 8 Amazon
Reviewers and 47 bloggers. One of the main
themes is that things that used to be hard (like organizing, helping, donating,
etc.) are now ridiculously easy. He
explains the origins of Wikipedia and how "publish then filter" was a
critical decision that led to its success, and explains how the Power Law Distribution applies there and elsewhere. Clay is dry and funny
and usually dead on – a sample quote: "Fame
is simply an imbalance between inbound and outbound attention – more inbound
arrows than outbound." Is all this
talk about Here Comes Everybody real? When Comcast starts tracking customer service based on Twitter and Blog
it’s pretty clear that things are changing. Here Comes Everybody is a must read for anyone interested in understanding what’s going on and why.