Clay Shirky

Clay Shirky (born in 1964 [2] ) is an American writer, consultant and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies and journalism.

He has a joint appointment at New York University (NYU) as a Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and Assistant Professor in the Arts New Media focused graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). [3] His courses address, onder andere things, the interrelated effects of the topology of social networks and technologische networks, how our networks shape culture and vice versa. [4]

He has written and leg interviewed about the Internet since 1996. His columns and Writings port Appeared in Business 2.0 , The New York Times , the Wall Street Journal , the Harvard Business Review and Wired . Shirky Divides his time tussen consulting, teaching, and writing on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. His consulting practice is focused on the rise or gedecentraliseerde technology industry leaders as peer-to-peer , web services , and wireless networking dat bieden alternatives to the wired client-server infrastructure dat characterizes the World Wide Web . He is a member of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Advisory Board . In The Long Tail , Chris Anderson calls Shirky “a prominent thinker on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies.” [5]

Education and career

Photograph or Shirky taken by Creative Commons chairman and MIT Media Laboratory director Joi Ito .

After graduating from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in fine art in 1986, he moved to New York. [6] In the 1990s he founded the Hard Place Theatre, a theater company dat produktie non-fiction theater using only found materials zoals government documents, transcripts and cultural records. [6] and ook worked as a lighting designer for other theater and dance companies, zoals the Wooster Group , Elevator Repair Service and Dana Reitz. [7] During this time, Shirky was vice president of the New York chapter of the Electronic Frontier Foundation , and wrote technical guides for Ziff Davis . He Appeared as an expert witness on cyber culture in Shea v. Reno , a case Cited in the US Supreme Court ‘s decision to strike down the Communications Decency Act in 1996.

Shirky was the first Professor of New Media at the Media Studies Department at Hunter College , where he developed the MFA in Integrated Media Arts program.

In the Fall of 2010, Shirky was a visiting Morrow Lecturer at Harvard University ‘s John F. Kennedy School of Government, [8] instructing a course Titled “New Media and Public Action”. [9]


In his book Here Comes Everybody , Shirky wordt uitgelegd how he has long spoken in favor of crowdsourcing and collaborative policymaking online. He uses the phrase “the Internet runs on love” to DESCRIBE the nature or zoals Collaborations. [10] In the book, he discusses the ways in welke the action or a group adds up to something morethan just aggregated individual action borrowing the phrase “more is different” from physicist Philip Warren Anderson .

Shirky asserts dat collaborative crowd-sourced work results from “a successful fusion or a plausible promise, an effective tool, and an Acceptable bargain with the users.” He states therein the promise of what the user will get out of work in a project leads to a person’s desire to get involved. Collaborators will-then choose the best social networking tool to do the job. One that ‘must be designed to fit the job being done, and it must help people do something they’ actually because to do. ” The bargain, Shirky states, defines what collaborators Expect from eachother’s participation in the project. [11] Shirky’s Promise, Tool, Bargain ‘premise restates aspects of the Uses and gratifications Theory of mass media research.

He points to four key steps. The first is sharing, a sort of “me-first collaboration” in welke the social effects are aggregated after the fact; people share links, URLs , tags, and Eventually come together around a type. This type of sharing is a reverse of the so-called old order or sharing, where participants congregate first and dan share (examples include Flickr , and Delicious ). The second is conversation, that is, the synchronization or people with eachother and the coming together to learn more about something and to get better at it. The third is collaboration in welke a group forms under the purpose or some common effort. It requires a division of labor, and teamwork. It kan of or in be characterized by people Wanting to fix a market failure, and is Motivated by toenemende accessibility.

The fourth and final step is collective action , welke Shirky says is “Mainly still in the future.” The key point about collective action is dat het fate of the group as a whole Becomes important.

Shirky ook introduces his theory of mass amateurization :

Our social tools remove older obstacles to public expression, and THUS remove the bottlenecks therein characterized mass media. The result is the mass amateurization or policymaking to post reserved for media professionals.

Combined with the supply or transaction costs associated with customizing content, mass amateurization or publishing changes the question from “Why publish this?” to “Why not?” [11] Tied to mass amateurization is the idea or publish-then-filter welke is now required due to the lakes size and amount of material being created on a daily basis. Shirky calls this mass amateurization or filtering a forced move. He uses the Portland Pattern Repository , welke introduced the wiki concept dat inspired Wikipedia, as an example of this new marriage or mass content creation and mass filtering.

In 2010 Shirky published Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age welke expands on themes introduced in Here Comes Everybody . The book follows concepts have introduced in a Web 2. 0 conference presentation April 23, 2008 called “Gin, Television, and Social Surplus”, [12] Dat ek die he popularizes the concept of cognitive surplus , the time UN peace from watching television welke kan worden enormously productieve als toegepast to other social ENDEAVORS. Technology has turned many matches consumers JSON producers. This new production capacity, combined with humanity’s willingness to share, can change society if toegepast to civic ENDEAVORS.

Shirky introduces Cognitive Surplus as a continuation of his work in Here Comes Everybody . “This book picks up where dat one left off, starting with the Observation therein the wiring of humanity lets us treat free time as a shared global resource, and lets us design new childhood or participation and sharing therein tasks advantage of that resource.” [13]

Shirky has’ll be written about “algorithmic authority,” welke describes the process through welke Unverified information is vetted voor zijn trustworthiness through multiple sources. [14] [15]

Institutions vs. collaboration

In July 2005, Shirky watch a talk Titled “Institutions vs. collaboration” as a part of TEDGlobal 2005. [16] This presentation reveals many of the ideas and concepts therein mention anything ultimately be Presented in Here Comes Everybody and in future TED talks. Shirky compares the coordination costs tussen groups formally under traditional institutions and Those formally with groups welke “build cooperation into tje infrastructure.” [16] Classic institutions port to create economic, management, legal and physical structures and inherently, by customizing synthesis rigid structures, must exclude large numbers of people. Companies like Flickr , however, keeping built “cooperation into tje infrastructure” hun company, do not have to build massive infrastructure nor exclude large groups of potential contributors.

Shirky states dat since many social systems follow the Pareto principle wherein 20% or contributors account for 80% of contributions, traditional institutions lose out of the long tail or contributors in turning only the few dat dominate the distribution JSON employees. The cooperative infrastructure model escapes enforcement to lose this resource. Shirky presents an institution as enabler and institution as obstacle concept. The relatief small number of high-volume contributors kan be assimilated as employees, into tje old-style corporate model and THUS kan live in an “institution-as-enabler world”. The long-tail or contributors, however, who make few and infrequent contributions, sea institutions as an obstacle as they ‘never mention anything about port leg hired, Charmain Horn Please note, disenfranchised. Shirky argues dat an idea or contribution to this club ‘may be infrequent and significant. Furthermore, all of the long tail contributors, tasks in aggregate, can be Substantial.

One pitfall of the “mass amateurs” customizing hun eigen groups is dat not all niches are filled therein will be positive ones; Shirky presents pro-ana groups as an example. Shirky closes with stating therein the migration from institutions to self-organizing, collaborative groups will be incomplete and will not end in a Utopian society. Rather, chaos will follow as was created by the advent of the printing press voordat it, and therein this period of transition will last roughly fifty years.

Shirky claims dat our actions and behavior are generated by convenience. Writer and analyst Megan Garber writes: “The more people we harbor work in media, and the more people we harbor consuming it – and the more people we harbor, met, customizing it – the better. Not Because bigger is implicitly better than the alternative compact, but Because Abundance changes the value proposition of media as a resource. ” [17]

Volgens to Jay Baer at making collaboration more convenient for the user, it will Eventually Become a more commonplace. Further, the enhancing the outcome of collaboration will instill motivation binnen the users. [18]

Volgens to Audrey Tang , Shirky has pioneered the notion of a “cognitive surplus” to DESCRIBE the way dat time spent on the internet kan harbor an toenemende social value. [19]

Evolution of Asymmetric media

In June 2009, Shirky participated in a TED @ State talk Titled “How Cellphones, Twitter and Facebook kan make history” aka “How social media kan make history.” [20] In the talk, he wordt uitgelegd down therein is the first time in history dat communication is skies from many to many. In the Past, communication to a large group excluded the Possibility of maintaining a conversation, and maintaining a conversation Meant not interacting with a group and Limit download was necessarily a one-to-one structure. Shirky labels this incongruous exchange as Asymmetric. In Shirky’s view, this feature is one of the main reasons dat the internet revolution is différent from communication revolutions dat preceded it. [20]

The second difference tussen de twentieth and twenty-first century communication revolution, Shirky states, is now all media is digitized. This Means therein the Internet now encapsulates all forms of media from the past and the medium Itself has Become the site of exchange, not just a Means of exchange.

Finally, the Internet Allows people to create content, THUS the line tussen producers and consumers has Become Blurred. As Shirky well it, “Every time a new consumer joins this media landscape, a new producer joins as well.” [20] Similarly, countries like China, as Shirky Gives as an example, go to great lengths to control information exchange on the Internet but are keeping trouble as the “amateurization” or media creation has effectief turned everytime owner or a CellPhone and Twitter account JSON a journalist. The populace as a whole, Shirky claims, is a force much harder to control dan a handful of professional news sources. He compares the “Great Firewall of China” to the Maginot Line as zowel ulcers built to protect from external threats but dat is not where the Majority or content is being created in this new media landscape.

As an example of the potential of this two-way, collaborative environment Shirky convinced we are now living in, he presents as a case study Over the issue of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act , members of the website ulcers upset about Obama’s announcement dat he was changing his stance and dat now he was going to sign the bill “that granted immunity for warrantless spying Possibly on American persons.” [20] on Despite the disagreement tussen de President and the posters Opposed to his altered view, Shirky cites the lakes fact dat the President posted a reply to hun groups, Limit download persecuting / ignoring the group, as piles for the future of this new form or mass media.

Shirky principle

In April 2010, Kevin Kelly Cited the phrase “Institutions will try to preserve the problem to welke they ‘are the solution,” and called it the “Shirky Principle”, as the phrasing reminded im of the Clarity of the Peter Principle . [21] [22] [23]

Communal value vs civic value

In June 2010, Shirky participated have TED @ Cannes wherein ghosts about cognitive surplus and its role furthering communal and civic value . [24] The talk was Titled, “How cognitive surplus will change the world,” and the Possibility for change, welke Shirky presents, runs the spectrum at one end with communal value being Increased and at the other end with civic value being furthered. Digital technology has allowed human generosity and “the world’s free time and talents,” welke Shirky calls cognitive surplus , to combine and create a new form of creative expression. This creative expression kan take the form of lolcats or ENDEAVORS zoals Ushahidi ; the former Shirky says increases as communal value , “it was created by the participants for eachother” for simple entertainment, whereas the Latter he cites furthers civic value meaning the group action is taken to benefit society as a whole.

Shirky-then presents the view dat society lives under social constraint and dat deze social constraints kan create a culture therein are “more generous dan” the environment created by contractual constraints alone. [24]Understanding where the economic or contractual motivation of a situation ends and where the social part begins, Shirky claims is key-when designing to Maximize generosity. This being the case, to port society use zijn “trillion hours a year of participatory value” to advance civic value , society Itself simply needs to prize, and collectively praise, ENDEAVORS like Ushahidi .

Clay Shirky wrote an essay about the aspects of online community building through broadcast media. If members of a broad social community and users of media outlets, Shirky suggests ways in welke we kan build up this type of society.

Shirky suggests five différent things to think about-when dealing with broadcast media outlets: Audiences are built. Communities grow. Communities face a tradeoff tussen size and focus. Participation matters morethan quality. You ‘may own the software, but the community owns Itself. The community will want to help build. Help it, or at least consider it. [25]

Response to Evgeny Morozov on consulting for the Libyan government

In March 2011, Shirky Responded to questions raised by Evgeny Morozov about have consulting had done for the Libyan government. Morozov tweeted “With Clay Shirky consulting the Libyan govt, it’s now clear why dictators are so smart about the Web.” [26] Shirky Explained have had bone Invited in 2007 to speak in Boston to Libya’s IT Minister. [27] Shirky stated the talk was “about using social software to verbeteren citizen engagement in coastal towns. The idea was dat Those cities mention anything be more economically successful if local policies related to the tourist trade ulcers designed by the locals themselves.” Shirky added therein nothing cameramen of the project beyond his initial talk. He defended his underlying desire to expand representative government in Libya and concluded that ‘the best reason to believe dat social media kan aid burgers in hun struggle to make government more responsive is dat beide Citizens and Governments believe that. ”

Reaction to SOPA

In January 2012, at TED Salon NY, Shirky watch a talk Titled “Why SOPA is a bath idea.” [28] He cites SOPA as a way for traditional, mass media producers to “raise the cost of copyright compliance to the point where people simply get out of the business or offering it as a capability to amateurs.” [28] After an offending web site is indicated with, with the identification process Itself not specified in the bill, the targeted site will be removed from the Domain Name System (DNS). Shirky claims since u can still use the static IP address of the site in question, removal from DNS is futile. He identifies the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 as a law that was loveable to delineate tussen sharing with your friends as being legal and selling for commercial gain as illegal. Unsatisfied, media companies, Shirky claims, continued to push government to create more sweeping legislation welke mention anything hinders ANY form of sharing. This pressure, in 1998, created the Digital Millennium Copyright Act . It was now legal for media companies to sell uncopyable material hoewel de uncopyable digital material does not exist. To remedy this fact, Shirky states dat media companies now With You to break consumer’s computer hardware to create the illusion dat de media ze PURCHASED was indeed uncopyable.

The DMCA marks the moment-when the media industries gave up on the legal system of distinguishing tussen legal and illegal copying and simply With You to preventable copying through technical Means.

Whereas DMCA was “surgical,” SOPA is “nuclear” since the law stipulates ANY sites pointing to “illegal” content ‘may be Censored. Ultimately, Shirky points out the public-at-large is at far the Toilets producers or content and they ‘are the ones dat welke will be censured. Way Down will be presumed guilty Until ze kan prove the content they ‘published is not illegal. This turns the American legal system on zijn head. He closes by encouraging Americans to contact senators and congressmen hun and reminding Them ze Prefer “not to be behandeld like a thief.” [28]

Distributed version control and democracy

On June 29, 2012, Shirky participated in Session 12: Public Sphere or TEDGlobal 2012. [29] Shirky made the Observation dat many of the advancements in communication technologische Throughout history, from the printing press to the television , ulcers heralded as harbingers of world peace yet ended up customizing grotere dissent. “The more ideas there are in circulation, the more ideas there are for ANY individual to disagree with.” [29]However, Shirky claims, with this Increased “arguing,” comes an Increased “speed” or information exchange. [29] Shirky cites ” The Invisible College ” as an example of a group that was loveable to utilize this effect created by the printing press , through the scientific journal , to help launch the scientific revolution .

Hey dan states we are in a similar period today with open source programmers and hun use or distributed version control or DVCS. DVCS, he argues, Allows for “more arguments” to be made JSON “better arguments”. DVCS ook Allows for “cooperation without coordination” welke Shirky states is “the big change”. [29] He suggests dan dat DVCS fits NaturallySpeaking with law if it, and software development, are “dependency-related.” Shirky presents Another application for DVCS – drafting legislation. He cites Open Legislation , a listing of Legislative information from the New York State Senate and Assembly, as an early step in dat direction.

The talc culminates with Shirky posing the open question whether Whether or not government will transition from Striving towards one-way transparency to mutual collaboration and suggests if it does, there is Already a “new form of arguing” centered around DVCS to aid the transition. [29]


  • The Internet for E-Mail (1994) – ISBN 1-56276-240-0
  • Voices from the Net (1995) – ISBN 1-56276-303-2
  • P2P Networking Overview (2001) – ISBN 0-596-00185-1
  • Shirky, Clay (2003). “Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality” . Writings About the Internet . Retrieved 2006-02-16 .
  • Planning for Web Services: Obstacles and Opportunities (2003) – ISBN 0-596-00364-1
  • Selected Articles in The Best Software Writing I , Joel Spolsky ed. (2005) – ISBN 1-59059-500-9
    • “A Group is zijn Own Worst Enemy” by Clay Shirky
    • “Group as User: Flaming and the Design of Social Software” by Clay Shirky
  • Here Comes Everybody : The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (2008) – ISBN 978-1-59420-153-0
  • Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age (2010) – ISBN 978-1-59420-253-7
  • Little Rice: smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream (2015) – ISBN 978-0-9909763-2-5


  1. Jump up^ “Shirky: Tisch School of the Arts at NYU” . . Retrieved 2011-06-03 .
  2. Jump up^ “Clay Shirky of New York, New York, USA” . PeekYou. 2008-04-27 . Retrieved 2011-06-03 .
  3. Jump up^ “New Media Expert Clay Shirky to Become Professor at NYU’s Carter Journalism Institute, Tisch School of the Arts and Sciences” . . Retrieved 2011-06-03 .
  4. Jump up^ Clay Shirky. “Shirky: Bio” . . Archived from the original on 2 January 2011.
  5. Jump up^ Anderson, Chris (2008). The Long Tail . Hyperion. ISBN  978-1-4013-0966-4 .
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b “Clay Shirky’s Resume” . Internet Archive Wayback Machine . Archived from the original on 1999-04-21 . Retrieved 2010-08-21 .
  7. Jump up^ “Clay Shirky, Creative Advisor + Technology Consultant” . Location One . Retrieved 2010-08-21 .
  8. Jump up^ “Harvard Kennedy School – Clay Shirky” . . Retrieved 2011-06-03 .
  9. Jump up^ “Harvard Kennedy School – New Media and Public Action” . . Retrieved 2011-06-03 .
  10. Jump up^ The Internet Runs on Love: Here Comes Everybody, Supernova Talk
  11. ^ Jump up to:a b Shirky, Clay (2008). Here Comes Everybody . USA: Penguin Books. pp. 260-277. ISBN  9780143114949 .
  12. Jump up^ “Gin, Television, and Social Surplus” . Archived from the original on 2010-10-16 . Retrieved 20 January 2011 .
  13. Jump up^ Shirky, Clay (2010). Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumers JSON Collaborators . USA: Penguin USA. p. 27. ISBN  9780143119586 .
  14. Jump up^ [1]
  15. Jump up^ Shirky, Clay. “A Speculative Post on the Idea of Algorithmic Authority” . Retrieved March 18, 2012 .
  16. ^ Jump up to:a b “Institutions vs. Collaboration” . TED . Retrieved 10 February 2013 .
  17. Jump up^ “Clay Shirky’s” Cognitive Surplus “is customizing and sharing always a more moral choice dan consuming?” . Retrieved 2014-06-08 .
  18. Jump up^ “Cognitive Surplus – Use Social Relationship to Change the World” . Retrieved 2014-06-08 .
  19. Jump up^
  20. ^ Jump up to:a b c d “How social media kan change history” . TED . Retrieved 10 February 2013 .
  21. Jump up^ Kevin Kelly (2010-04-02). “The Shirky Principle” . The Technium . Retrieved 2010-04-09 .
  22. Jump up^ Mike Masnick (2010-04-09). “Institutions Will Seek To Preserve The Problem For Which Way Down Are The Solution” . Techdirt . Retrieved 2010-04-09 .
  23. Jump up^ James Grimmelmann (2010-04-09). “The Shirky Principle” . PrawfsBlawg . Retrieved 2010-04-09 .
  24. ^ Jump up to:a b “How Cognitive Surplus Will Change The World” . TED . Retrieved 10 February 2013 .
  25. Jump up^ “Broadcast Institutions, Community Values” . Retrieved 2014-06-09 .
  26. Jump up^ “Evgeny Morozov on Twitter” . Twitter .
  27. Jump up^ Clay Shirky (2011-03-01). “Consulting with Libya in 2007” . Clay Shirky . Retrieved 2011-03-25 .
  28. ^ Jump up to:a b c “Why SOPA is a bath idea” . TED . Retrieved 9 February 2013 .
  29. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e “How The Internet Will Change Government” . TED . Retrieved 9 February 2013 .


  • MacLeod, Hugh (2006). “Shirky’s Law:” Equality. Fairness. Opportunity. Pick Two. ” ” . gapingvoid . Retrieved 2006-02-16 .
  • Gillette, Felix (2010-06-08). “Feats of Clay” . The New York Observer . Retrieved 2010-06-09 .