clay shirky – prior to now

clay shirky bw

Influenced greatly by Shirky’s work. Cognitive Surplus (but i’d suggest rather.. eudaimoniative surplus) in particular. City as school/university – sharing the surplus. His story of the 10 day cares centers impacted us as well – how to get back to a culture of trust..?

shirky transaction law

Sneak peak of Web: the film.

The Shirky Principle: Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.

                                          [ Kevin Kelly cited the phrase in 2010]

Perhaps how we get those 6 day care centers back.. getting *enough people to believe this:
at 1:46 – huge..
q: what made them think they could get away with something like that?…
a: all human history prior to now.

prior to now
Clay made this comment in regard to Martha Payne, who set up a simple blog neverseconds where she reviewed her school lunches and talked about healthy eating for children. She hoped to raise a few hundred pounds for her favourite charity, Mary s Meals.
and then she was asked to end her blog…

“This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today.
I only write my blog not newspapers and I am sad I am no longer allowed to take photos. I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners and I’ll miss seeing the dinners you send me too. I don’t think I will be able to finish raising enough money for a kitchen for Mary’s Meals either.

After 7 million blog hits, one council led banning, being the number 1 story on every news site worldwide and having raised over £115,000 for Mary s Meals, Martha is one of the biggest news stories of the year.

*enough people – because without enough people, yes we’ll get there, but in a much longer amount of time.. because without the adjacent possible of a city, we give up on what we want/crave/know to be good

what happens when a new medium puts a lot of ideas into circulation
[see my original notes from video for more into this – git hub et al]

when you go to git hub… and look around the edges – people experiment with political ramifications of a system like that for updating and fluidity sake..used to further development of legislation

would love to say when the tools are in place – innovation is happening – but that’s not true

the problem is power: the people experimenting don’t have legislative power, the people with power aren’t experimenting

there is openness, but
transparency is openness in only one direction

being given a dashboard without a steering wheel has never been the core promise a democracy makes to its citizens

what kept her (martha payne) there was political will – the expectations of the citizens that she would not be censored..

seth godin on chartering to be innovators

huge – getting at the root cause..

too important to not be daring and bold....ongoing convo (mostly in my head) after seth’s post:

via david: Trying to answer without understanding the difference between social entrepreneurship and social innovation is difficult. This piece is still RT’ing and pushing 300 since it appeared.

maybe there is none.. maybe we manufactured that.

let’s try wiggling our way into betterness…

this – clay shirky’s ted 2012 – getting to me – as always.
the 10 day care centers for sure.. how to get the 3 back to a human relationship rather than a market.
then his 2012 ted – the people experimenting have no power.. the people with power are not experimenting.
and his reference to martha payne – that it’s – prior to now..
add on – the 800 unis now taking you w/o act sat.. because if you have a low score – that lowers their ratings. – amy’s wiggle-ness is primed to go.. as is zak’s and cristian’s
so a crazy take..
the 3 day care centers – still believe money is power… so let’s use that, rather than spinning our wheels on permission. we are living after the – prior to that.. no?
we’ve been spending the last four years seeking permission for people to be in spaces of permission with nothing to prove. because we believe that is the ticket – to the breathtaking-ness, to haque’s betterness – we all seek. proof is killing us – and it’s not even provable.
amy and i talking mission hills yesterday at a 20% entry point. well.. let’s not. let’s not dabble.. we know to much to do that. let’s trump it with money. let’s get the 20 mill. then – as per our write-ups et al… offer 1 mill each to one elem and one middle school and one high school. we were worried about everyone playing – if they had their day job pulling at their time/attention/energy.. and our closed door locally ends up being the school board (to a huge degree) – so how to get the school board to free them up.
say – we now have 20 mill – they’ll make allowance. just like 800 unis are making allowances with sat act – just to get more money. because – unfortunately – right now – we are all the 3 day care centers – confused about the relationship, believing that money is power.
so – let’s not whine or wait for permission – let’s use what we have.. the mentality of people as they are now..
let’s make prior to now… visible.. in one short year. city as school.. no?
prior to now
Clay Shirky said in a talk on Big Idea Radio that numbers in the tens are manageable, as are numbers in the thousands. But numbers in the hundreds, for whatever reason, are difficult to organize.
perhaps that’s why we need this placebo-d experiment. get past the 100. get into the synchronicity.
Clay and Nicco Mele (author of the end of the big) talking about the end of the big (media).
30 min in –
via Clay – parallel with higher ed – there’s no thing college rests on ..  a series of experiences and then how to value them – class course credit grade department degree major (7 stock keeping units) so embedded in everyone who works in higher, we don’t have a way to say – what if we disperse with the meeting, or merge the grade and …. we can’t even think through our own stock keeping…. in light of what the internet no enables.
via Nicco – as an internet nerd – i hated teaching online, because the awesome part was meeting in the room, moving it online – i got all of the work (grading et al) and none of the favoriate part
Clay – the litmus test – if someone is says they are interested in improving higher ed – do they understand that higher ed costs more and produces less value every year
if you aren’t in denial to that fact, then we can move forward
Nicco – colleges started because we needed libraries – books all in one place
Clay is on the board of directors for ushahidi
We tend to overestimate the value of access to information and underestimate the value of access to each other. – (tweeted as quote of Clay’s)

Howard posts on fb, feb 2014:

This is a VERY interesting and previously untold history. Before multimedia, raves, multi-screen desktops, they were all made possible through a concerted effort by Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, the Bauhaus, Black Mountain College, John Cage, the USIS, Buckminster Fuller, the Museum of Modern Art, that started as a response to fascism.

roos of multimedia

first chapter

1. democratic person – very center of a democratic society

2. find a kind of media to produce that personality – a kind of media that allows us to make choices..

individuals acting in concert..

networked individualism ness

early fb rhetoric:  surround us with media to make ourselves

a utopian 60’s – actually from the 40’s

– – – – – –

Clay’s conversation with Fred .. dec 2013:

turner and shirky

360 comes to help create space to facilitate the democratic personality

clay – we’ve been asking for 40 yrs… what the heck happened between 64 and 67..

If mass media made fascists, what kinds of media could American leaders make that would help create democratic persons and a democratic kind of unity?



Enter the Committee for National Morale. The Committee was led by Arthur Upham Pope, a Persian art historian, and it included 60 of America’s most interesting thinkers—people like anthropologists. Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict, Mead’s husband, Gregory Bateson, the psychologists Gordon Allport and Kurt Lewin, a refugee from Germany. Together they theorized a new kind of media, a multi-media that could surround individuals and allow them to practice the perceptual skills on which democracy depended: the skills of selection, of integration, of knitting together diverse perspectives into a uniquely individual identity that Committee members called the “democratic personality.” This kind of personality was open to difference: open to racial difference, open to sexual difference. It was the opposite of the fascist personality. And it was the basis of a democratic mode of unity, a way of being together and at the same time remaining individual.

The other track follows the development of those same environments for the liberation of individual selves and the making of democratic community in places like Black Mountain College right up into the happenings of the 1960s. It ends in 1967 at the first Human Be-In, where people danced in Golden Gate Park and saw themselves as free, liberal individuals, diverse, racially mixed, sexually mixed, and open in every way. The Human Be-In helped bring us San Francisco’s Summer of Love and the high counterculture of the late 1960s. But the book shows that it was also the endpoint of the movement against fascism that Margaret Mead and the Bauhaus artists spawned.


To give you a sense of why, I want you to remember that, in February of 1939, 22,000 Americans filled Madison Square Garden to rally in support of fascism. Organizers hung giant banners on the wall that said, “Stop Jewish Domination of Christian America.” That’s America, 1939. In October that year hundreds of people marched down 86th Street in New York City with swastikas and American flags. This was in Life magazine and now it is almost totally forgotten. 

20 min – counselors offices were called adjustment centers… which seemed nicer than the fascist mentality.. but now we see – we probably got a little to adjusted (to the system)

23 min

CS: In The Democratic Surround the fear of fascism is the original motivation for the development of new media strategies. At first, this is underwritten by the US government. By the 1960s the source of fear is often the US government itself. How and when did that turn happen?

FT: The short answer is: when the draft was instituted and we went to war in Vietnam. The more complete answer is actually a story about the long 1950s. In the ‘50s we moved away from a robust, pro-liberal, anti-Communism that was grounded in an earlier anti-fascism toward a consumerist alternative. 

We wanted them to experience choice in a commercial as well as a political vein. That turn toward mingling consumption and politics took place in the ‘50s and was available as a strategy to folks in the 1960s. While that was going on, some of the same people who had been working to promote the ideology of choice abroad—Walt Rostow, folks like this—were working at the Center for International Studies at MIT on the ideas that would become the foundation of America’s war inVietnam. Some of the same people who were fighting for a liberated, individuated society that would be diverse racially, diverse sexually, slowly but surely turned into the people who brought us Vietnam. You can watch it happen in the archives. And it’s terrifying.

The fantasy goes like this: If I express myself, the world will change. That is not correct. I was so angry to see Occupy focus on expression while the Tea Party focused on elections. Who is driving our policy now? It’s not Occupy. Sure, we got that phrase, “the 99 percent.” That’s great. It helps frame the debate. But framing debates is totally insufficient.

The business of the individual is to be a free, articulate participant among others. That’s not enough. Folks who buy into that vision have failed to do the institution-building that actually generates change. That’s a negative legacy on the Left, and it’s one that all sorts of New Media companies take advantage of. Google and Facebook are counting on it. They issue an invitation that is very profitable to them: Come connect with your friends. Hook up. Connect. Connect. Connect. Connect. But: Don’t build institutions. Don’t regulate us. We are the key institutions of free expression, free innovation—not the government. Never mind that it was government-sponsored research that brought us the Internet in the first place.

The threats are different today than they were in the 1940s and 1950s. Back then, American intellectuals and artists feared hierarchical institutions and centralized bureaucracies as tools of fascism. They tended to forget that those same structures helped bring America the New Deal. Today, many on the Left—and many in the corporate sphere—are still pushing the pursuit of individual satisfaction and the development of individual-centered networks as keys to democratic unity. The trouble is, what we face today is not the fascism of the 1930s. What we face is the dissolution of the middle class and the predatory accumulation of wealth by a tiny fraction of our population. What we face is the failure to band together to take action against climate change. These are the kinds of challenges that individuals gathered together in expression-centered networks are uniquely ill-equipped to meet. 

We need to do the institutional work that builds free societies over the long haul. And if we don’t, the Tea Party will.


i was always told that the 60’s were the 30’s again..

37 min – the family of man – cracked open alternative perspectives

50 min – grand theft auto 5 – such a high degree of choice it feels like freedom – totally structured from the outside.. 

1:02 – courage – it’s really hard to take public stands esp when everybody around you tells you to take that tight professional stand that will help you move forward in life  …it’s hard to reach out to ..people who are unlike ourselves.. tech for reaching to people like us – amazing.. tech for reaching those unlike us – not so much. that’s what the family of man tried to do. that’s our challenge now.. stop focusing on the improvement of self and start focusing on building of a polity out of people who are different than ourselves..



nov 2015

As long as we discuss online education as a pedagogic revolution rather than an organizational one, we aren’t even having the right kind of conversation.

The dramatic adoption of online education is not mainly a change in the content of classes. It’s a change in the institutional form of college, a demand for more flexibility by students who have to manage the increasingly complicated triangle of work, family, and school.
The digital revolution is happening because a high school degree is a ticket to not very much, while the traditional form of college no longer works for the people who need a certificate of employability.
Given the lousy fit between institutional assumptions and the actual lives of most students, we should applaud their inventiveness in using digital options to make college work for them.
perhaps.. a nother way to leapfrog to a global do-over
Read this whole thread:
I’m about to break down why I, as a progressive, cannot support a third-party presidential bid in the United States. cc: @DrJillStein
But by encouraging me to vote for Jill Stein, you are encouraging me to help Trump win. Because THAT’s our system.
“I’m voting my conscience” is the battle cry of those who do not understand our current system or don’t care to understand.
@cshirky @AlanKestrel750 Voting has multiple effects, minutely adding to electoral results is only one, preference signaling is another.
@johndburger @AlanKestrel750 Problem is, no one listens to those signals. Two-party system is a constitutional problem, not an electoral one
redefine decision making/B (via self-talk as data) disengage from consensus
only a crazy impossibility.. prior to now..
“There’s No Such Thing As A Protest Vote” By @cshirky. The problem is the system but not voting means nothing.…
Citizens who vote for third-party candidates, write-in candidates, or nobody aren’t voting their conscience, they are voting their ego, unable to accept that a system they find personally disheartening actually applies to them.
prior to now man.
Noisily opting out as a way of demonstrating your pique is an understandable human act. It’s just not a political act. It’s an elaborate way of making the rest of us do the work of deciding.
or perhaps.. doing the work of perpetuating that deciding ness.
from tweet stream
I’m not saying the system is just. I am saying it’s insuperable.
(of a difficulty or obstacle) impossible to overcome.
that..? impossible to overcome..?


Watch the trailer for award-winning documentary about Joshua Wong, Hong Kong’s teenage activist

clay shirky: it’s the joan of arc story.. the youngster who can see the world clearly comes into a complicated adult conflict.. the sense of scale could not be larger..


Mastery-based learning is one of the few pedagogic innovations that produce non-trivial results. Focusing on mastery shifts a school from being a place that provides instruction, to being a place that provides comprehension.

Original Tweet:

who’s defining non trivial ..?

in the realm of human energy.. if coerced (ie: part of pkg deal).. comprehension seems trivial

in my mind.. that compulsion\coercion (no matter how invisible ie: rolled up in a certification or topic or whatever) ness seems like the pay for the 10 day cares