Clay Shirky on how social media brings social change

I’m at Online Information 2008, where Clay Shirky has just delivered a terrific keynote full of stories about how we can use social media to share, collaborate and act collectively. Some are drawn from his book Here Comes Everybody, some are new.

However, we all know that what may be relatively easy online becomes difficult when it comes to offline organising. I asked first where we were seeing some real changes – and he cited the Obama election campaign and its use of the Net.

In his keynote Clay also said that we are still at the stage of exploring … and if someone had a million dollars to invest he would suggest breaking it into small parcels rather than spending the lot on one project.

I asked how he would advise anyone interested in the way that social media brings social change to explore what really makes a difference. He said go and talk in depth to the people who have really tried, and failed. Instead of looking for lists of “best practices” look for the real stories of what works, and what doesn’t.

Full interview above, short version on finding stories of failure here.

Ewan McIntosh has a full blog piece on Clay’s keynote.

Keynote preview video here