Geert Lovink on Tue, 12 Aug 2008 16:45:55 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Analysis Without Analysis. Review of Clay Shirky's "Here Comes Everybody"

Thanks, Felix, for this insightful, and clear review.

I have not finished Shirky's book yet but read a great deal. What
stroke me is that, imho, Clay Shirky and his team of editors and
agents have made the wrong choice concerning the content. In my view,
Shirky should have brought together his online work of the past 10-15
years so that we can finally read his Power Laws in book form. Over
the years, Clay Shirky has proven to be sharp observer and critic
of Internet culture, and social networking in particular. Felix's
review doesn't stress that, and he doesn't need to, because he is
reviewing the book. And this book is particularly uncritical. Despite
(or should we say, inspite) all the worthy examples, it is pitched to
the business/consultancy community.

Now, to come back to Felix's specific critique, namely the absence
of copyright/intellectual property controversies in Shirky's book.
This is indeed striking, but as a matter of fact, I got used it.
Shirky is not a reporter, he is an ideologue, a preacher and so-called
visionary, this time not from the US Westcoast but from New York. He
doesn't see it as his task to investigate and go through issues.

There might be another explanation, and I found it in a recent,
truefully commercial book on the history of Web 2.0, written by the
Businessweek columnist and Sillicon Valley reporter Sarah Lacy. It is
is called Once You're Lucky. Twice You're Good. She does write about
p2p as it forms the technological rational behind big Web 2.0 players
like Skype. She notices that the two greatest influences that laid
the foundation for Web 2.0 economics "were a couple of underground
movements called open source software and peer-to-peer files sharing.
And ironically, both were mostly born in stodgy old Europe, not in the

It might very well be that Clay Shirky has a similar opinion. It is
a known trick of the US consultancy class to project projects with a
different agenda onto the Old Continent. It is a rhetorical trick, as
we know that the inventors of the Web and Linux are Europeans, and the
leaders of free software and open source are US-American citizens.
Nonetheless, at times, it can be practical to just push distruptive
and potentially subversive ideas into a corner and marginalize it as


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