Are the Very Nature of Organizations Shifting Too?
Up until now, we really had no good way for two way, back and fourth, communication. Clay Shirky’s book Here Comes Everyone makes you think about the implications of seamless two-way communication. The book is really about “organizing without organizations.” The idea of “flash mobs” not only as a type of art form but as an unstoppable and unpredictable tool for political protest is discussed. The first chapter goes into great detail about how a woman lost her phone in a cab and a nefarious person used it and would not return it. The police would not even charge the person with theft even after they knew who had the phone and was using it illegally. Charges were not filed until a friend of the woman who “lost” her phone helped put pressure on the thieves and the police. This whole first chapter is deeper than just the use of social networking tools for justice. Chapter one talks about our new forms of communication, race and right verse wrong.
Chapter four of this book is titled “Publish, then Filter.” This chapter discusses the whole shift, whether good or bad, in the concept of how media has changed. It used to be that media outlets decided what was news and then publish what they felt was important. Now, it seems with the advent of many web tools that publishing and then filtering is the norm. This chapter and subsequent chapters goes on to talk about the amateurization of professions that were once done by only professionals. Take journalism for an example. Every blogger is a journalist in a sense. Even during my short and sporadic “career” as a blogger, I too have been accused of being that amateur. I was told that I may not be taking jobs away from other people but I was part of the narcissistic communicators who blogged and that thought they had something to say. Just by my blogging I was some how taking away from others who actually had real things to say. I am paraphrasing.
Many of the shifts in how media works today comes down to cost. The word cost is used but does not entirely refer to finances. All organizations, whether it is Little League Baseball or Ford Motor Company, have costs that occur due to being organized. Just the enforcement of rules, scheduling and the shear need to stay organized costs money. Not only does it cost money but staying together or organized is priority one, which, in turn, means that goals and objectives can be no higher than priority number 2. According the Shirky, these organizational costs are called transactional costs. When an ad hoc, grassroots group gets together to work on a project and has no need to organize, the group can put it’s main purpose as it’s number one goal. Many familiar with technology can compare Shirky’s ideas with many open-source software projects, which he does clearly in this book. Many tools now-a-days can allow people to work on a goal without ever meeting one another or organizing, at least in a traditional sense.
Journalism, movie rentals and publishing are causing a domino effect of changes on every industry involving these mediums. It is easy to see how the changes in publishing are changing school text books and libraries. Technology and social media are spearheading these changes. With many of the points that Clay Shirky makes in his book the face of organizations are changing. Not before reading this book, did I ever consider the idea of an “open-source” organization. I’m not sure we totally know how the change in communication and technology will shape the future of organizations. One thing is certain, if organizations become increasingly a thing of the past, educators well have to take a greater role in teaching students to be entrepreneurial or at the very least help students acquire the skills to be their own boss.
This has far reaching implications for education. Basically, education is free now. With MIT and schools like Stanford publishing all or most of their courses online a student can avoid the debt of college. All the “none formal school” attending student has to do is prove that he or she has the skills to do what it takes to succeed in his or her desired profession. Here Comes Everyone says to me that we really no longer need to organize into schools and in many ways we are wasting tax payer dollars requiring the public to pay for transactional costs. I know that there are teachers out there that will fear this. They should not. There is absolutely no reason that the same teacher that fears their job being taken away by an online teacher cannot become the online teacher.