Here Comes Everybody

January 12, 2010

YouTube is now in the position of having to stop 8 year olds from becoming global publishers of video.

Clay Shirky delivers that and other such striking one-liners in a short essay at The World Question Center. Try this one: “[P]ublishing has become the new literacy.” But I recommend the linked piece because it is much more than the sum of its one-liners.

The item in that collection that hit home most for me, however, is the one on how some of us are rebuilding, in our everyday lives, the guild system.

Everyone in my guild runs their own operation, and none of us report to each other. All we do is keep close track of what each other is thinking and doing. Often we collaborate directly, but most of the time we don’t …

One’s guild is a conversation extending over years and decades. I hearken to my gang because we have overlapping interests, and they keep surprising me. Familiar as I am with them, I can’t finish their sentences. Their constant creativity feeds my creativity, and I try to do the same for them. Often the way I ponder something is to channel my guild members: “Would Danny consider this a waste of time?” “How would Brian find something exciting here?” “Is this idea something Kevin or Brockman might run with, and where would they run with it?”

The one place where I diverge from Stewart Brand in that piece is in his remark that he and his pals (i.e., fellow guild members) Danny Hills, Brian Eno, et al. stick to e-mail for their intercommunion: “That no doubt reflects our age—younger guilds presumably use Facebook or Twitter or whatever’s next in that lineage.” In fact, social media are now becoming basic to people of all ages. The fastest-growing constituency of Facebook is the over-forty segment of the population. But he is certainly right to speak of “whatever’s next in that lineage.” A recent — and terrific — conference on social media that I went to emphasized that we should never marry a particular program or device for interaction; it’s the interaction itself that we should buy into, being ready for every useful tool that offers itself, when it appears.

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