Thursday, September 10, 2009

Etherpad example class notes.

Etherpad shared classroom notes discussing Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody.

Meetup Example is an example of a website that allows latent social groups to form by providing a ready made web-platform for groups to organize and eventually meet in real life.

“He designed Meetup to help people find each other online and then meet in the real world, taking the burden of coordination off the hands of the potential users. Meetup users can search by interest (Are there any relevant Meetups in my town?) or they can look by area (I live in Milwaukee, what Meetups are nearby?)” –Shirky p196, Here Comes Everybody

Technological change: Pervasiveness of websites and access to computers, the use of user profiles and databases that could cross list users in the same town AND by interest. The emergence of national online social gathering sites like Meetup, or Yahoo Groups.

Social mechanism:
Reduces the transaction cost of establishing social groups. Allows group formation of groups that would not have otherwise formed.

Social outcomes: Local gathering of people that would not have been able to easily organize or meet before Meetup.

“The net effect is that it’s easier to like people who are odd in the same ways you are odd, but it’s harder to find them. Meetup, by solving the finding problem, created an outlets for many new groups—groups that had never been able to gather before.” –Shirky p200, Here Comes Everybody


  1. Shirky observes that internet related organization can foster the growth of idiosynchratic groups that otherwise would fail. A change in the institutions allows for change in the social structure. An implication is that the nature of the individual participating in such groups is also subject to change, possibly representing a greater level of differentiation and individuality with in the population. This reminds me of observations made by Durkheim and Simmel about the transition to modern life in the big cities and away from the mechanical similarity and concentric social circles of pre-modern social life. For instance, see chapter 18: "Group expansion and the development of individuality", published in "Georg Simmel on individuality and social forms" edited by Donald Levine.

  2. Here is a brief, but interesting article on what 9-11 would be like in the age of social media. The article ends with a Shirky quote.

  3. It is interesting what happens when you place people into a group depending on their personality and willingness to conform. Its interesting that people are biased and act differently, either tend to sway towards they friends/classmates actions or object. Would they act the same in a different circumstance?