Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Clay Shirky: How social media can make history

The purpose of this assignment is to help you assess your understanding of the points Clay Shirky was making in his talk How social media can make history, to examine your study strategy, and to extend the points he made.

Understanding the talk
  1. Shirky describes four pre-Internet revolutions in communication technology, what were they and what new media did they enable?
  2. At what point in its evolution does Shirky think a new technology can become revolutionary and cause significant social change?
  3. Which media are good for broadcast to a large audience?  Which are good for conversations?
  4. Shirky describes three significant differences between the Internet and previous communication media.  What were they?
  5. Shirky contrasts the Chinese government's handling of criticism of officials at the time of the Sichuan Province earthquake with then-Senator Obama's handling of criticism when he reversed his stand on the FISA vote.  What was the difference he cited?
  6. What point was Shirky illustrating with this image?
    7.  What point was Shirky making with this series of three images?







Study strategy
  1. As you watched the talk, did you take notes?  Did you pause and replay as you watched?  If so, how many times?
  2. Did you replay parts of the talk in answering questions 1-7 on this assignment?  If so, for how many of the questions?
  3. Did you read any of the comments on the talk Web site?  Did you add a comment?
  4. Did you follow up with any other searches about Clay Shirky or topics he raised?
Extension
  1. How would Shirky describe the invention of paper and ink for writing?  Was it revolutionary?
  2. Shirky is concerned with social impact of media.  To date, what do you consider the most socially important impact of the Internet?  Why?
  3. Shirky states that tools become socially important only after they become ubiquitous and are taken for granted.  Classroom black and white boards are ubiquitous in that sense.  Which new educational technologies are now becoming ubiquitous?  How will they change education?