Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 17:36 | SYDNEY
Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 17:36 | SYDNEY

Shirky revisionism


Sam Roggeveen


27 April 2010 13:20

I've linked countless times to the essays and lectures (above) of the social media commentator Clay Shirky — most recently to this piece about the collapse of complex business models — so it's only fair that I give his critics some space. 

Via The Browser, here's a critic who accuses Shirky of adopting some slippery argumentative methods in that essay about complexity (no response as yet on Shirky's blog):

Clay Shirky tells no fewer than five separate stories in his short essay. He explains how his title is taken from a book called The Collapse of Complex Societies; he tells a story about a consulting engagement he had at AT&T; he spins his short MIT story; he talks about a web video comedy called In the Motherhood and how ABC failed to turn the web video into a successful TV series; and he talks about Charlie biting his brother’s finger on YouTube. Charming, each and every one, but what you might not notice on a first casual reading is that there is little to hold them together or back them up. Switching from story to story keeps the reader off-balance and makes it seem plausible that there is, in fact, a coherent mechanism behind the anecdata if only we were quick enough to catch it as the stories fly by. But there isn’t. The resolution never appears. There is nothing behind the curtain.