Clay Shirky‘s Here comes Everybody is one of the best books I have read about the Internet and culture. The last time I was this enthusiastic about an Internet culture book was when I read David Gauntlett‘s Web Studies, five years ago. When Gauntlett was writing the first edition of Web Studies most media theorists were talking about the internet without talking about the web. Bizarre but true. Most books were still talking about cyberculture and cyborgs and cyber punk which while I am sure was important to some people, bored me entirely to death. Gauntlett’s book and his work online was my first source of insights into what the world would look like very, very soon. At that point, the book dazzled me.

Shirky develops on some of the nascent ideas about social change that Gauntlett spotted in sites like imdb and Teacher review and xena fan clubs then and sharpens them. Shirky popularised a phrase that I felt incoherently with my first brushes with the Internet and continue to feel each time I go online: The Internet runs on love. There’s something about the altruism of the internet that stuns you afresh each time you go online. This is an elegant book that analyses the ways and means by which the Internet changes social organisations… everything from encyclopedias to Vatican II. The case studies are fresh, the themes are interesting and the insights very, very useful.

The book will be out with Penguin very soon. Buy it if you are even slightly obsessive about the internet.