Here Comes Everybody, and the future of membership

I am reading the new book by Clay Shirky, Here comes everybody – the power of organizing without organizations. In the book Clay explores how social media is changing organised activity. The two chapters I've read so far have unpicked the power of networks and lower barriers to publishing, and the shifts that mean that loosely affiliated groups can often now be more effective than hierarchical institutions. It's an excellent read and I'd recommend it to all in our sector. Why? I'll let Clay explain:

Group action gives human society its particular character, and anything that changes the way groups get things done will affect society as a whole. This change will not be limited to any particular set of institutions or functions. For any given organization, the important questions are "When will the change happen?" and "What will change?" The only two answers we can rule out are never, and nothing. The ways in which any given institution will find its situation transformed will vary, but the various local changes are manifestations of a single deep source: newly capable groups are assembling, and they are working without the managerial imperative and outside the previous strictures that bounded their effectiveness. These changes will transform the world everywhere groups of people come together to accomplish something, which is to say everywhere.

My prompt for reading it was recommendations from others exploring the future of membership with us. In a previous post I introduced this potential project. For the last two months we've been developing the project collaboratively and in the open with a core group and anyone else who wanted to join in. After a messy start, ideas are now becoming more organised and I'd encourage anyone interested in the future of membership (especially those of you who work in membership organisations) to join us, have a read, and add some thoughts if you'd like.  By working in this way we are providing another example of what Clay Shirky talks about in his book when he says "we are living in the middle of a remarkable increase in our ability to share, to cooperate with one another, and to take collective action, all outside of the framework of traditional institutions and organisations". Our hope is to put together successful funding bids to take these ideas forward and develop useful research, guides and services to help membership organisations respond to a changing world. But, whether or not we are successful in attracting funding, attempting to work in this new way will hopefully teach us much.

Last updated at 15:08 Mon 18/May/09.
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Megan 's picture


Third Sector Foresight

On Tuesday Clay Shirkey gave a lecture at the LSE. I was prevented from attending by the snow but fortunately the LSE have published an audio file of his talk. Worth a listen.

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