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

More news and ideas from Clay Shirky


Why an Internet “slow lane” is a terrible idea

May 15, 2014

All eyes on the Federal Communications Commission, as it unveils its “Open Internet” proposal. So-called net neutrality is a complicated topic involving regulation, politicking and jargon, so we called on technology writer and observer Clay Shirky to share his take on what's going on.

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Live from TED

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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