Joho the Blog[supernova] Denise Caruso on anti-social software and Clay Shirky's lovefest - Joho the Blog

[supernova] Denise Caruso on anti-social software and Clay Shirky’s lovefest

Denise Caruso, author of the new book Intervention, has been thinking about risk. She looks at innovations that have had nasty unanticipated consequences. The way to avoid it? “Have a conversation.” Talk with people before hand. E.g., the company that was going to incinerate chemical weapons in Oregon talked with environmentalists and their ilk and came up with better means of disposal. People don’t always do this because they fear it.

And, Internet tolols and culture exacerbate it. Targeted search taks away serendipity. Blogger bubbles, etc.

There are “potential dealbreakers” for the Net, she says, including copyuright bs. social media. So, we need to re-socialize the Net. We should automate serendipity.


Clay Shirky begins by talking about a disagreement in Japan about whether a temple is old even though it’s been rebuilt as part of continuing process. The dispute is over “solidity of edifice, not solidity of process.”

Then he talks about a big development contract he got many years ago with AT&T in which he was challenged to provide support. “We get our support from a community,” Clay said, but to them it was like he’d said “We get our Thursdays from a banana.” So, he showed them it working in practice. They couldn’t see it work in practice because they already knew it couldn’t work in theory. He points to comp.lang.perl. “It’s doing fine,” but how is AT&T doing? Not so well. The solidity of the thing is evanescent.

Perl is like the temple, says Clay. It continues because the people doing it love Perl enough to stop what they’re doing and help one another. “No contracts are written, no money changes hands.” “We don’t often talk about love” at these conferences. But tools for coordinating and talking — simple things like mailing lists — turn love into a renewable building material. This leads to unexpected, unanticipated consequences. the better predictor of longevity is not the business model but do the people care about one another.

There’s lots of commercial opportunity. We’re not going to all live together in a commune. But the ability to get people together outside of management and profit motive creates a huge opportunity. And traditional work will be intertwined with this way of working.

Within 24 hours of Linus posting his first message, he had a global network of people eager to collaborate. The monitoring of Nigerian election through people using SMS and Flickr, the responses to terrorist actions, the anti-immigration-law protests coordinated through MySpace…we will see much more of that.

Add collaboration tools to love and you can write an operating system.

We can now do big things with love.

[This was a classic and beautiful statement of why the Net works and why it matters…and the fact that those two things are the same is what’s most hope-giving about the Net. Clay is such a phenomenal combination of insight, brilliance as a writer, and, well, love.]

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[The next day] Nick Douglas – who is hilarious to have on a backchannel chat – video interviewed me right after Clay’s talk, so the conversation turned to love and community.

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