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.
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.
"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
“We are in a world where most American citizens over the age of 12 share things with each other online.”
“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.”
“Time Warner has called and they want us all back on the couch, just consuming — not producing, not sharing — and we should say, ‘No.’”
“It did not take long after the rise of the commercial printing press before someone figured out that erotic novels were a good idea. … It took people another 150 years to even think of the scientific journal.”
“The more ideas there are in circulation, the more ideas there are for any individual to disagree with. More media always means more arguing.”
“When you make the claim that something on the Internet is going to be good for democracy, you often [hear], ‘Are you talking about the thing with the singing cats?’”