Clay Shirky argues that the history of the modern world could be rendered as the history of ways of arguing, where changes in media change what sort of arguments are possible — with deep social and political implications.

Why you should listen

Clay Shirky's work focuses on the rising usefulness of networks -- using decentralized technologies such as peer-to-peer sharing, wireless, software for social creation, and open-source development. New technologies are enabling new kinds of cooperative structures to flourish as a way of getting things done in business, science, the arts and elsewhere, as an alternative to centralized and institutional structures, which he sees as self-limiting. In his writings and speeches he has argued that "a group is its own worst enemy."

Shirky is an adjunct professor in New York Universityʼs graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program, where he teaches a course named “Social Weather.” Heʼs the author of several books. This spring at the TED headquarters in New York, he gave an impassioned talk against SOPA/PIPA that saw 1 million views in 48 hours.

What others say

"Shirky is one of the handful of people with justifiable claim to the digerati moniker. He's become a consistently prescient voice on networks, social software, and technology's effects on society." — WIRED
Clay Shirky on the TED Blog
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Live from TED2014

Power poses, idea technologies and the Internet’s birthday: A recap of “Where are we now?” All-Stars Session 3 at TED2014

March 19, 2014

By Liz Jacobs and Ben Lillie Taking stock of our moment in history helps us better understand ourselves, our societies and the present moment itself  – which often gets lost in the temptation to look backwards or forwards. And at TED2014: The Next Chapter we’re doing plenty of both. But we’re also designating this All-Stars […]

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Technology

Further reading in GitHub, from Clay Shirky

September 25, 2012

The open-source programming world has a lot to teach democracy, says Clay Shirky. In this fascinating talk from TEDGlobal 2012, Shirky harkens back to the early days of the printing press. At the time, a group of “natural philosophers” (who would later adopt the term “scientists”) called the Invisible College realized that the press could […]

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Quotes from Clay Shirky

We are in a world where most American citizens over the age of 12 share things with each other online.
Clay Shirky
TEDSalon NY2012 • 1M views Jan 2012
Informative, Persuasive
The threat [of the U.S. bills SOPA and PIPA] is the inversion of the burden of proof, where we suddenly are all treated like thieves at every moment we’re given the freedom to create, to produce or to share.
Clay Shirky
TEDSalon NY2012 • 1M views Jan 2012
Informative, Persuasive
Time Warner has called and they want us all back on the couch, just consuming — not producing, not sharing — and we should say, ‘No.’
Clay Shirky
TEDSalon NY2012 • 1M views Jan 2012
Informative, Persuasive