This week I read Clay Shirky’s chapters Collective Action and Institutional Challenges and Faster and Faster. The chapter begins by highlighting the history of a priest that had a history of sexual abuse since the 1960s and the idea that an actual collective and noticeable response to this case did not occur until 2002. Shirky notes that this response had not been possibly in the past because the Catholic lay persons were unable to spread the word in the ways new technology allows us to now. This example reminded me of another Catholic priest scandal involving embezzlement. This case eventually led to a trial for the two priests who were using church money to go on trips, gamble and spend time with mistresses. Like the sexual abuse scandal, the lay persons associated with the church and diocese were able to bring considerable attention to the problem because of advanced technology and communication.
Shirky also gives the history of flash mobs in this week’s reading, in particular the history of flash mobs used for political expression. The examples included an ice cream mob, reading mob and smiling mob and how the government in these areas responded. This was an interesting part of the chapter, but most of us know flash mobs as those collective action events for fun and entertainment. Now there is even a main website where people can post their flash mobs, sign up to attend events and communicate with other flash mobbers.
Shirky’s discussion of Evan Williams and his Internet successes of Blogger and Twitter showed how the simplest social tools have developed into remarkable and overly popular websites that many people use daily.
Other readings this week included the slides from a talk on the sourcing of Arab Springs. The actual article from this case study is located here and is a good read. An article from Mashable was assigned this week concerning the “10 Rules for Increasing Community Engagement.” One article assigned for this week gave some good tips on participating in Twitter chats. Both these articles had some good points, especially if you are just getting your feet wet in social media platforms.