Great review, Pam!
I haven’t read Shirky yet, and your review as well as the discussion and recommendations by numerous others in our class have placed on my Wish List. I your summary, I like that you note Shirky’s inclusion of both successes and failures of the social phenomena. Considering the kinds of organizational strengths that the political parties and political action organizations like MoveOn.org have found and mined to date, it’s interesting to note that it still takes an actual letter, phone call or physical visit for an individual’s voice to be duly noted. I wonder when, if ever, that will change?
The three elements for building community you mention are stated simply…..deceptively so. I my business, creating the compelling promise, providing the right tools, and discerning the right “bargain” are all part of the work we’re engaged in, but devilishly difficult to nail down. I don’t know if that’s because it is indeed simpler that we believe, or because of the wonderful complexity of people. When thinking about those three things in the context of the proverbial barn-raising, it becomes easier to visualize: The promise is one of community and “being included”, as well as showing off your skills; the right tools are the right tools to raise a barn (lots of saws and hammers…); the “bargain” is not only that you can count on the community to help you with your barn, but also the plans for the barn itself.
I note that this book is on the list for my fall class…..I can hardly wait!