14 July 2011

Here Comes Clay Shirky

Another post in my irregular "what I highlighted and why while reading Here Comes Everybody" series:
What are we going to do about the negative effects of freedom?

Shirky, chapter 8, pg. 210
This is the summary quote of the entire "Solving Social Dilemmas" chapter, in which Shirky looks at the ways social tools can help us address things like the Prisoner's Dilemma. Of course, for every bowling league that finds support for their social interactions via a Facebook group or Ning or Meetup, there's a pro-ana or Skinhead group doing the same.

And that's the problem. As Shirky goes on to point out, it used to be hard to form and maintain groups, which meant that societal disapproval was often enough to keep "bad" ones from forming or becoming powerful. Now all kinds of groups form, and we have to filter, sometimes not terribly effectively, after the fact.

How does your association keep track of the peripheral but related groups that may be forming among your members or other potential audiences? Once you find them, how do you choose to interact with them? Do you treat them as potential collaborators - or as competitors? Do you tacitly or even explicitly allow niche groups to form "outside the fold," or do you try to persuade or compel them to come inside? What about groups that are critical of your organization, or groups of the disaffected? What's your philosophical approach? Control? Engage? Deny? Embrace? What consequences would each of those have?

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