3.4 Organizing without organizations and the introduction of social capital


    Sharing work, creating value with each other, undertaking endeavors together, helping others through social networks on the Internet: We are more than capable of organizing and self-managing these things without the help from a traditional organization. This idea has taken such flight that organizations who do not adapt and make sure they are connected properly will loose their right to existence and will disappear.

    In his book, Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky identifies various stages of “organizing without organizations.” He explains that every next step represents a more intense form of working together:
    1. Sharing
    2. Exchanging experiences
    3. Co-creating and collective action

    Collaboration is a form of mutual reward. Money is hardly (or even not at all) an issue in these new forms of collaboration. And, that is quite special – working together, organizing together, and creating value together without money changing hands. The old body of thought would call this “free of charge.” I call it reciprocity. People help each other in exchange for recognition, status, welfare, or just for the fun of it. Call it non-tangible value, intangibles, or social capital.

    Clay Shirky talks about “Cognitive Surplus: The Great Spare-Time Revolution“: instead of wasting time on one-sided consumerist activities like watching television, people prefer to spend their time providing significant contributions to their (virtual) social tribe.

    Traditional organizations are only able to give things away, and then they’re literally gone. In a connected society, or with a connected individual, something that is given is always returned. Only you do not know exactly where, when, or in what shape. This is asynchronous reciprocity. I believe social capital is the essential new element in our economic thinking about creating value in Society30.


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