Even children can’t concentrate on television anymore, says Clay Shirky, the US-based internet educator, consultant and author of ‘Here comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations’.
In his speech at yesterday’s AOP Digital Publishing summit Shirky told an anecdote about the four-year-old daughter of one of his friends watching a film: “[S]he jumps round behind the TV and [starts] rooting around in the wires, looking for the mouse.”
Today’s television ‘may not be worth sitting still for’, but the computer is for everything.
The problem for media professionals is that the industry still holds the perception that everyone sees publishing in the same way, he explained.
But, he said, citing the example of Flickr, material may be ‘in public but [it’s] not for the public. The cost of putting something out in public has fallen so low.’
“This is a reversal of the usual pattern,” he said. ‘Gather and share has been the usual pattern [of publishing] since time immemorial’, but now grouping comes first.
He split his talk into three categories: the sharing culture of Flickr; the collaborative nature of Wikipedia; and the collective action of internet groupings, citing the use of a Facebook group to force HSBC to reverse its decision on withdrawing students’ interest-free overdrafts.
These examples, he said, show the ‘the environment that’s coming’ and a need to re-think the model’.
“If you wait to hear what the business model is you will hear that your competitors have perfected it,” he said.
Shirky compared today’s media trends to London’s 17th-century gin craze: at first people didn’t know what to do with what they were consuming, but they then learnt how to share, collaborate and collect.
“The action is where people are going after the consumers. Not just consuming, but producing and sharing.”