18 November 2010

Here Comes Clay Shirky

Another entry in my irregular "What I highlighted and why while reading Here Comes Everybody" series.
Communications tools don't get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.

Clay Shirky, chapter 4, pg. 105
I love this observation. It SO clearly reflects what's happened with every means of communicating, probably going back to the telegraph and the telephone.

I think the ASAE conferences are really illustrative of this. It was probably about 3-4 years ago that social media first started being something for associations to pay attention to. If you think back at the types of conference sessions that have come up in the intervening years, you'll probably remember that the early ones were almost exclusively focused on the technology qua technology: what is FB, how do you set up a blog, how do you get on Twitter, what are wikis, etc. Early and even mid-bell-curve adopters like myself fretted constantly about the over-focus on the platforms and the under-focus on what you could do with them and why you'd want to.

That picture has changed dramatically in the past year. Sessions are no longer all about "I don't understand how to set up an account" - now they're about things like member engagement, creating a true sense of community, reaching out to your audiences where they are, turning data and metrics into information that can drive decisions, creating strategy, and board and committee development and management, just for example, from the upcoming ASAE Technology Conference that I'm fondly referring to as Tech 10.1.

We can't start making sense of why new technologies matter until the technology itself disappears and it's no longer, "Oh, that's only for geeks, not for me. I don't understand it and I could NEVER figure out how to use it."

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