The power of group action

Some thoughts on this week’s readings:

Here Comes Everybody

The most interesting concept I noted while reading Clay Shirky’s book this week was the power of group action. The story of the Stolen Sidekick and the example of the Mermaid Parade showed how technology has assisted individuals and groups in taking action they were incapable of taking previously. You wouldn’t think a stolen phone could influence such interest, but Shirky is correct in that the sheer animosity of the party who would not return the phone stuck a cord with many who followed the story online. He writes, “Using someone’s own phone to refuse to return it to them crossed some barrier of acceptably in the eyes of many followers of the saga…” (p. 4).

I mulled over Shirky’s idea that almost all acts are social in some aspect. This idea does not sit well with those who do not like to collaborate I’m sure, but the idea that it is difficult, if not impossible, to act without including or excluding others is a plausible one, especially in the workplace. This idea of constant social activity supports Shirky’s idea that “when we change the way we communicate, we change society” (p. 17). To support this idea, social media communication has changed society in a number of ways.

The Mermaid Parade was an excellent example of how social media and technology have changed more than just online communication. The ability to post community photos and bring people together after a popular event is just one example of how online communication has encouraged group action in interpersonal situations.

Online Articles

Derek Willis’ post “The Natives Aren’t Restless Enough” was the most engaging online article for this week’s reading. Willis blogs about the fact that journalism students cannot just expect to be on the same playing field as their peers in order to succeed in the business. He notes that new generations are more naturally able to use technology, but what does this mean for journalists who need to be able to standout from their peers with media? Willis makes some great points on why journalism students can’t just use the media and technology like everyone else. I completely agree with him because to succeed in my job you need to be able to know more than just the basics of technology. For example, my organization’s website is simply horrible and needs a redo. Luckily, because I was a curious undergrad, I learned to code, design and develop websites from scratch. It’s an important skill and one that helps me to stand out. This goes back to Willis’ idea that journalism students are often media users, but what they need to be is media creators.

Another article I found particularly interesting was “The #freemona Perfect Storm: Dissent and the Networked Public Sphere.” This article supported Shirky’s idea of the power of group action through social media as a dedicated group of individuals was able to influence the release of Mona, a prolific tweeter and Egyptian-American writer, who was arrested during the Egyptian revolt. The writer of this post points out several factors that could have assisted in this group action. She notes that social media speeds things up, allows diverse networks to come together, fosters personal interaction and is integrated in a global sphere. The #freemona story is an incredible example of how Twitter was used to alert the right parties and encourage her release.

Other articles I read this week were:

“Beyond Gingras: Tech Innovation Alone Will Not Democratize Media”

“Does the Internet Make You Dumber?”

“Does the Internet Make You Smarter?”

“How Social Media is Sparking Organizational Transformation”

Check back next week for another round of class reading reflections.


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