ICT4D Professional Profile: Clay Shirky

Clay Shirky acts as a writer, consultant and teacher among the ICT4D professionals.  His main area of focus is on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies.  Because the Internet can be both a useful or harmful tool to society, I think that it is important to study its effects so that we can adapt to its changes.  Shirky had a very extensive list of educational experiences.  After graduating from Yale with a Bachelor of Arts degree in fine art in 1986, he moved to New Yorkand found himself embedded in the inner workings of a theater company.  Shirky held many other jobs at the same time before acting as a visiting lecturer at Harvard University.

Clay Shirky now focuses on splitting his time between consulting, teaching, and writing.  The main focus of his consulting practice is the rise of decentralized technologies like peer-to-peer, web services, and wireless networks that provide alternatives to the wired client-server infrastructure that characterizes the World Wide Web.  Shirky is great at explaining his views to his audience with eloquence and persuasion.  He has written two books: Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age.  Shirky’s main talking points include:

  • The action of a group adds up to more than just an individual action
  • Cognitive surplus, the concept that the time freed from watching TV can be extremely productive when applied to other social activities
  • People are now interested in producing and sharing as much if not more than they consume
  • The impact of social media
  • People are now learning to use free time more constructively for creative acts instead of constructive ones

I believe that what makes Shirky so effective is that he is not only extremely intelligent about ICT4D, but he has the tools to make speeches and presentations that are actually conveyed to the general public so that they can understand.

Blog- http://www.shirky.com/weblog/

Clay Shirky- http://www.shirky.com/

Twitter- @cshirky

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One response to “ICT4D Professional Profile: Clay Shirky

  • wstewar

    I agree it is important to write about and study both the positive and negative effects of Internet technologies. I am also intrigued by decentralized forms of information sharing. My final project is actually on Diaspora, a social networking site that claims decentralization as a key factor for their individuality.

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