Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization

Ever since Stewart Brand identified computer technology a revolutionary new tool of social change in the 1960s, pundits have sought to chart the evolving cyber-landscape and its dramatic, often unpredictable effects on society and culture. In Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization, Clay Shirky examines recent innovations that enhance, transform, and sometimes even harm networking and group dynamics. Ranging from the distant technological past -- the organization of railroads and the birth of institutional hierarchies -- to the eve-of-publication present (Twitter, one of his prime suspects, was only born during the composition of his study), Shirky builds a strong and exhilarating case for a true sea change in how people now relate to each other and pool their efforts. Anecdotal yet closely reasoned, the book maps how spontaneous assemblies -- from Flickr photo-sharing groups to Wikipedia's collaborations -- are capable of achieving their goals in ways more efficient and egalitarian than provided by old institutions. Without minimizing the potential for pain in the process (?It?s not a revolution if nobody loses?), Shirky reaffirms his oft-quoted belief that ?the Internet runs on love? and makes the case that this primal emotion lies at the center of many new Internet phenomena, which are otherwise unexplainable. The author overlooks some developments supportive of his arguments (MUDs, geocaching, and SETI@home all come to mind); moreover, he focuses exclusively on the use of these tools by ordinary citizens. But what happens when the cops or a dictator embraces Twitter? On this, Shirky is lamentably silent. Perhaps he feels the very revolution he so knowledgably limns will self-correctingly deal with such outcomes.

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."