If you haven't read Here Comes Everybody, grab a copy and you will soon understand why everybody is talking about self-organizing these days.
Clay Shirky, the author, is an engaging speaker with a long list of easy-to-digest videos on You Tube that I highly recommend.
One of the stories he tells of the power of self-organization took place in Belarus in 2006. Not allowed to protest by the repressive regime, young people used mobile phones to gather large ice-cream eating flashmobs. As smiling ice cream eaters were dragged off to prison, their plight was broadcast all over the world, weakening the legitimacy of the ruling party.
In a recent talk, Shirky asked "Why aren't people using Internet communications for positive actions or "online barn raisings?"
Ernst-Jan Pfauth, in a blog post on Shirky's talk, points out
Well, the people from small farm communities live in a totally different social environment. Three important factors stimulate them to organize events like a barn raising:
The farmers owe each other a favor;
The small social density causes social control. Everybody is tracking everybody’s action;
The people they know are likely to be around for some years, so it’s worth the investment.
Shirky points out that these same conditions don't exist online so we have to design new environments for collaboration.
In upcoming posts, we'll review some of the ways people are starting to organize online and look at the key design elements of self-organizing, whether online or off.
Jean pointed out that some of you are already experimenting, so please let us know what you are doing by responding to this post!