Tapscott vs Shirky (from Frog Design)

Selected quotes from a conversation between Don Tapscott (author of Wikinomics, prof. at Rotman) and Clay Shirky (author of Here Comes Everybody, Cognitive Surplus) in Frog’s corporate magazine ‘Design Mind‘.


“The more appropriate metaphor for the growing loss of privacy today would be Frank Kafka’s The Trial, where the central character awaits trial and judgment from an inscrutable bureaucracy for a crime that he is not told about, using evidence that is never revealed to him, in a process that is equally random and inscrutable. Similarly, we could become the targets of social engineering, decisions and discrimination. And we will never really know what, or why…

“In the Net generation culture, we can see the new culture of work, the new marketplace, and even the new citizenship. There are problems and exceptions, but overall it’s a culture of freedom, customization, scrutiny, integrity, collaboration, fun, speed, and entertainment.”


“We’ve known for some time now that the Internet is better at “No” than “Go,” in the words of Micah Sifry. Five years ago, I was giving talks with slides of Amish barn raisings, saying “We need to figure out a way to use the network for this sort of constructive work,” but I’ve since come to conclude that the Internet is better at No than Go, which is to say it is a medium that favors extensive ties over intensive ones…

“The grain of the Internet seems to favor coalitions built on the intersection of people’s goals, not the union of those goals. This makes it good for movements and bad for political parties, at least as historically conceived. So I’d say we should expect to see a lot more knocking down of existing structures, while the work of building new ones based on deep integration remains as hard as ever…

“Right now, the best the Net can do for that latter category is make it easier for people to communicate about the kind of government they want and, when they are ready, to engage in the serious trade-offs needed to make a real government…

“If we leave it to individuals to inform themselves, the news junkies will simply pull away from the rest of society. We’ll have a tiny core of hyper-informed individuals and a large mass of people who don’t know and don’t care about politics, as we’ve always had, but we’ll lose the group in the middle that followed the news a bit…

“As news sources become more variable and news consumption becomes more voluntary, the single best thing individuals can do is to share what they care about…

“The promise of democracy, though, is that people can also be sources of political ideas, either by expressing their own or amplifying others’ ideas. So the best thing for democracy right now would be for people to share more expressly political speech, speech they approve of and speech they revile, on their social networks.


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