My copy of Clay Shirky‘s ‘Here Comes Everybody‘ is already dog-eared and marked up with high-lighter and post-it notes. A book for the times we live in – at least if you live even a little on the web. How to get people participating in groups on-line, and how that experience can be enhanced are just two of the issues addressed in this book.

A quote from the book that particularly strikes a cord for me is:

‘Our electronic networks are enabling novel forms of collective action, enabling the creation of collaborative groups that are larger and more distributed than at any other time in history.  The scope of work that can be done by noninstitutional groups is a profound challenge to the status quo.’

So this is already something we know – and I still get a lump in my throat when I read it – maybe, just maybe our species can find a way to collectively address the crisis we are in and circumvent the politicians, ‘experts’ and ‘heros’ that all claim they are doing something. I am increasingly of the mind that if we are going to change our collective ways quick enough it takes individual action. This is my definition of ‘radical responsibility’ – the willingness to look around and take responsibility for what we see happening AND the willingness to do something about it ourselves. This junction between individual action and collective action is becoming one of the hottest issues related to our role in the world. Increasingly if we have to face the fact that if we are not willing to become part of the solution – we have become part of the problem. In terms of collective action Shirky says….

‘Collective action is the hardest kind of group effort, as it requires a group of people to commit themselves to undertaking a particular effort together, and to do so in a way that makes the decision of the group binding on the individual members.  Information sharing produces shared awareness among the participants, and collaborative production relies on shared creation, but collective action creates shared responsibility, by tying the user’s identity to the identity of the group.  In historical terms, a potluck dinner or a barn raising is collaborative production (the members work together to create something).’

If I haven’t hammered the need to get his book hard enough then check out this video – where Clay talks about the ‘internal combustion moment’ that he claims we have reached with technology. This moment is about peer-to-peer communication, our ability to act collectively with the help of technology, and so much more.