Clay Shirky jump-started the Amateur Hour conference with the opening keynote, presenting themes from his forthcoming book, Here Comes Everybody. Clay demonstrated the progression that new media has enabled from aggregation to collaboration to collective action.
First, there is the pooling of stuff. But we move quickly from aggregation to collaboration and annotation that goes beyond the cute and social, like the cats on I Can Has Cheezburger to collaboration that produces greater transparency and reduces corruption. For example, the google maps mashup of the location of Tunisian prisons. People are making knowledge available outside of large, formal organizations.
One up skill from collaboration is collective action. Flashmobs, such as the pillow fight in Toronto, the Zombie walk in San Francisco, and the first flashmob in Manhattan, the pigeon party in Central Park are all examples of an emergent form of real space collective action enabled by the Internet. What was originally developed as a way to make fun of Hipsters has become something political and a force for collective action.
The "Internet turns the organizing strategy inside out," says Clay. It creates a group where no group exists in advance. The group is not create and conspired privately but broadcast in public and formed spontaneously. So when Belarussians gathered in October Square in a flashmob to eat ice cream or to smile at one another, out came the secret police.
“The idea of cyberspace is over.” Just as the phone has become an annotation for our daily lives, so, too has the Internet. We are using it as a tool to enable this kind of collective action. And that trend is only accelerating. “Freedom of speech, press and assembly are all the same freedom” now. We are only going to see more of this spill-over from real space into cyberspace and back which will be hard to fake and harder to ignore, such as the "Nuts Online Jericho" web protest against the cancellation of the TV show Jericho which used web-based community to make a real space protest happen: users organized the delivery of 20 tons of peanuts to the television network.