24 May 2011

Here Comes Clay Shirky

Another entry in my irregular "What I highlighted and why while reading Here Comes Everybody" series.
The more ubiquitous and familiar a communications method is, the more real-time coordination can come to replace planning, and the less predictable group reactions become.

Shirky, chapter 7, page 175
If there are scarier words than "less predictable" to most associations, I'm not sure what they are. For many associations the phrase, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten" isn't a threat - it's a warm, snuggly, comforting promise.

Some of you may recall the brouhaha last August/September around the ASAE annual meeting and general dissatisfaction with a number of aspects of the meeting. Last year, we pretty much just kvetched. And hit the bar. And kvetched at the bar. But as more and more ASAE members get more and more comfortable with social tools, who knows? Rogue unconference sessions, anyone?

The thing is, I'm just using ASAE as an example, because it's something a lot of us are familiar with. It could be your association and your members and their dissatisfaction with your meeting, or your magazine, or your website, or your customer service (like I overheard at a local sandwich shop the other day: "The ice machine is broken." "Well, the fountain sodas are really cold." Yes, really.), and as they get more comfortable finding and talking to each other in real time, who knows what revolutions they might be fomenting?

That shouldn't scare you - it should excite you. If you're paying attention and listening and in the conversation yourself, who knows what kind of great new ideas you might discover? If, on the other hand, you want to stay in the safe world of always doing what you've always done...well, I guess someone has to be the last guy making buggy whips.

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