Today we bear witness to the Fifth Revolution. This is a revolution that has not only changed the way we communicate but it has transformed the speed of communication and the size of the groups to whom we communicate with.  How is that you may ask? Well, according to Clay Shirky in his book, “Here Come Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations”, because of these “new” social tools that we have (internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc…) our messages can reach massive amounts of people in a matter of a few minutes. He gives countless examples of people “organizing” meet ups without technically belonging to any organization.

With the increase of social tools pervasive actions becomes faster. One such example is that of HSBC and Facebook. HSBC recruited recent graduates and students at Cambridge University in the U.K. promising them penalty free overdraft checking accounts, after getting thousands of new student customers HSBC said they were going to charge the students 150 # (approximately $800 USD) in fees. HSBC basically had the students cornered between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”. Enter Facebook in blue tights and a red cape waving in the wind. After one student set up a page on Facebook entitled, “Stop the Great HSBC Graduate Rip-Off”, complaining about the penalty fees thousands of other students followed suit within a matter of days; informing and instructing each other on how to move from HSBC to other banks. Finally, they decided that once school started they were going to form a protest rally at HSBC in London; which never happened because the bank gave in. The moral of the story? Our new social tools no longer allow us to be a “voiceless purchaser of goods and services”, once wronged by companies, we can now come together as a collective group in a short period of time and take action.

These social tools make it easier for people to take action and to take action quicker as a group. According to Shirky, he believes that, we are going from a world where media is mainly to inform to a world where media is a site where people can share and collaborate together and ultimately take action together. He goes on to state that with social tools it’s easy to share things (YouTube), people can come together to build things (Wikipedia) but the next step he believes, is the ability for people to take action in the world as a group and not as individual itemized consumers.

Clay Shirky




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