Every now and then, I check in on Clay Shirky. He’s a stellar thinker on journalism and new media. And the man never gave a boring talk. He’s one of the people who are plotting out a middle ground between the actual academic style of reasoning backed by research and agonistic discussion and the slightly glib, Gladwellian popular story-centred crossover writing which I criticised a few posts back.
I’m not going to comment extensively on this video, which is fairly recent except:
- To speculate that it seems to find him in the early stages of developing the schtick for what I assume is a lecture to promote a new book project for a mass-market paperbacky thing, like his two previous volumes Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus. (And his books never sat entirely comfortably with me. His academic work and his essays seem more grounded.)
- To mention that what he’s describing in this video is a darwinistic process of accelerated design through rooting out failures by algorithmic selection. It’s evolution, basically. I’m seeing this everywhere these days, since I’m in the middle of Daniel Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, (of which more later except to say it comes about as highly recommended as anything I’ve read this year).