My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Here Comes Everybody is a thoughtful and–importantly–balanced exploration of information and media tools, groups and organizations, and the social/behavioral revolution that’s had everyone’s attention for the last few years. If you’d like a well-written introduction to some of the important theories and issues surrounding our digital and mobile technological innovations, this is definitely a good place to start. (I’d also recommend Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks–a dense but powerful economic treatise–and Weinberger’s Everything is Miscellaneous–a highly accessible read about information in the digital age.)
Especially worth mentioning is that Shirky’s overview is balanced. There’s certainly no doom-and-gloom here about a forecoming digital darkness, but neither is the book filled with unbridled optimism for a network wikitopia. His examples are full of ethical complexity from the very beginning; any time that I, as a digitally optimistic reader, started feeling propelled into visions of internet grandeur, Shirky reminded me that pro-anorexia and terrorist groups work these ways as well. There’s no clear answer for how to deal with these kinds of groups, but the reality is that the internet is a fact–it has already happened. The technological revolution has already occurred, and people–and with them society–are changing as a result. Read Here Comes Everybody to see just what’s changing, and how.