Association professionals: Put Clay Shirky's new book at the top of your reading list. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations is a thoroughly considered, articulate demonstration of the revolutionary change social media is imposing on our society. Never before have I dog-eared a book like I did with this one - I've bent and marked up over 100 pages in this book.
From the title, you might consider this book a naked threat to associations (Steven Colbert felt threatened 50 seconds in). Associations are at risk because of the social web phenomenon, but not in the sense that a single social networking site or online community will directly challenge, and ultimately unseat them. However, wave after wave of ad hoc groups that organize with ridiculous ease have the real potential to eventually erode the power and influence historically enjoyed by associations.
Shirky scarcely mentions the not-for-profit sector specifically, but the writing is on the wall. Towards the end of the book, though, he does bring up membership associations. Here is the most eye-popping passage from this practicing association professional's perspective:
"The jury is still out on whether any of the current interest in reforming the US health care system will change anything, but if I had to pick between MoveOn and groups like the self-organized strangers in Dallas for having the more profound effect, I'd bet on the ad hoc groups. These kinds of efforts are unlikely to be long-lived or self-sustaining--no office in DC, no budget from donations--but the unpredictability of that kind of effort makes it a signal of a kind of commitment that is hard for any ordinary membership organization to produce effectively." -pages 301-302Check out Jeff De Cagna's podcast with Clay, and get this book.
Tagged: Association Management; Associations; CAE; Certified Association Executive