In his first two chapters of Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky describes how people have been using the social media found on the internet to create groups, collaborations, break news, or organize things without the use of traditional institutions or “organizations”.
Human beings have been apt to share since the dawn of time. Through the internet, one person sharing a few photos can become an international news story. Not only can everyday people (you, me, Evan) work with the internet and “social tools” to draw awareness to a subject or recruit others with common interests to join a community, we can use that community to achieve something tangible and bigger than the sum of its parts. Wikipedia is made of hundred of thousands of entries that can be written and edited by anyone with an internet connection (and approved by the moderators, of course). It maintains its complex connections between
Bypassing the traditional “org chart” in which management oversight is trickled down through several stages of people (and in which communication is limited between these different layers), new social tools have made it possible for people to communicate ideas, news, and to collaborate much more freely and without managerial costs. As well, Wikipedia can has kept its cost of existence down considerably simply by not becoming a traditional institution. Institutions have often not ventured to pursue an activity because the cost of maintaining its managerial overhead. Wikipedia, as well as other social media are, as Shirky says himself on page 31, “altering this equation by lowering costs of coordinating group action”.