My first two questions this week related to the Benkler reading, and the third related to the Shirky reading. After discussing the Benkler reading, I believe that weak-tie relationships have a special and meaningful place in society today. The idea is that an individual can build their own social networks in more complex and personalized ways because of the availability of new technology. The ability to cast a wider net while still maintaining strong-tie relationships is a benefit of the new technological structure of our society.
While I posted my second question after reading the Benkler reading, it turns out that the Shirky reading does a pretty good job of addressing the question. Some of the changes being brought about by communication technology are changing social behaviors in a fairly drastic way. On the broadest of levels, these changes are allowing for faster collaborative production and collective action.
Shirky uses the example of Wikipedia to illustrate how collaborative production is made infinitely easier and faster with new communications technologies. For collective action, Shirky points to several examples of people uniting over new platforms to bring about change. Shirky talks about the American Airlines flight, the Voice of the Faithful and flash mobs. Shirky emphasizes that the motivations for this kind of action have been there all along, but new communications technology open new doors for how people can communicate and organize.
The last question I posted came from Shirky’s reading and related to the effect of anonymity on the development of online communities. I posed this question specifically in relation to the anecdote that begins the book. Now that I have almost finished reading, I don’t think that this is a main concern of Shirky’s. Shirky discusses how the concept of cyberspace has become obsolete in today’s society because so much of what we do online is so heavily interwoven with our ‘real’ lives. Shirky is more concerned with how new communication technology enriches our realities. Anonymity does return as a troublesome issue with the analysis of Wikipedia regarding vandals. However, the vandals become insignificant in the big picture because of contributor’s love for the project.