Douglas Coupland once asked what the world would be like once everyone alive had been brought up always having a television. For sure that will change the world and we need to be flexible with the changes. Here is a book about the arrival of the Internet that is without doubt even more revolutionary and its already significant impact.
Shirky is a captivating writer who can grip you with specific stories of the internet’s scope of influence and also reveal the technological history of the net’s development, its main movers, successes and failures. From the meticulous and drawn out campaign to find a phone lost on a taxi seat in New York to how the news of the 2008 Sichuan Province earthquake reached those inside and outside of China he has practical examples of how the world has fundamentally changed. He shows the great advantage for community building and political advocacy and protest but doesn’t diminish the dangers of these social tools in the wrong hands. As well as a short history of the internet I found myself learning things about the political situation in Belarus, the obstacles now removed to the implementation of Vatican 2 and how small groups connect, among many other things, as well as a fascinating history of Wikipedia. On the downside he doesn’t touch on the internet and music and entertainment. iTunes, U Tube and the revolution at work in the entertainment industry is needing a good book too.
In essence Shirky lays out a detailed social history of the last fifteen years. If you are in any line of work or thought that needs to know where our society is at in order to respond to that place and change your thinking accordingly then this book is well essential.