Clay Shirky’s book “Organizing Without Organizations”


Shirky’s book “Organizing Without Organizations” opens up with the terrific story of a lost/stolen cell phone. A young woman, Ivanna, lost her phone within a cab and with the help of her friend, Ethan, was able to purchase a new phone and have all of the pictures and important media transferred from her old phone (because the phone company stored such information) to the new one. In doing this, they discovered several pictures of the girl, Sasha, who now had the stolen phone. When asking for its return, the pair was met with hostility. Now powered by a desire to show how wrong this young girl was, Ethan decided to take this story to the place where it would receive the most attention, the internet.

Now of course there were many steps that took place both before and after this event but they all mostly involve around the same idea, the power of the technology around us. In this day and age, social media and other sites hold so much information that when used properly, can greatly help a person in many ways. It can unify people and bring them to action while also reveling, in an indirect way, a lot of information about ourselves from pictures and posts put online.

I can only assume that the reason Shirky opened his book with this story was to show the power of mass media and communication. He offers two points of view on the topic, one positive and one negative. The positive side is Ethan’s and Ivanna’s. They were able to use the internet to discover the identity of Sasha and call others to their story and therefore were able to draw national attention and have a simple case of a lost/stolen phone heard everywhere. But for Sasha this was negative because she was easily found through her social media sites and was therefore harassed by many who heard this story. Though she was in the wrong, this was unnecessary and not fair.

Over, the story represents that the technology that is available today is a source of great power that when used properly can really help us achieve our goals. However, with great power comes great responsibility and we must therefore be careful of the tool we are given and use it in the most appropriate way.


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