Wednesday, July 2, 2008

More from Shirky

Ok, so it looks like I will be posting my thoughts fairly frequently when it comes to Shirky's book. Here is my latest nugget:

In particular, when a profession has been created as a result of some scarcity, as with librarians or television programmers, the professionals are often the last ones to see it when that scarcity goes away. It is easier to understand that you face competition then obsolesence.

This is talking more about a profession, but could be about associations too? Any thoughts?


Ben Martin, CAE said...

Ah, now you're beginning to see where I'm coming from. You don't want to be the last one to see that ridiculously easy group forming is an attack on what many association execs do all day long!

Ben Martin, CAE said...

subbing to comments. sorry.

Greg Fine said...

Much of the conversation on this blog, and Shirky's book is around the concept, and fear, that self-forming groups, and Ben I totally agree with your post on this, are going to put associations out of business.

My question...why shouldn't some associations go out of business? The National Tie Association just folded. It was time, it wasn't becuase thier members could self form, it was becuase they were no longer relevant.

What social media is doing, in my very humble opion, is hastening the death of some organizations that need to die.

Those associations that are revelant to their members, all of them, will, I believe, not only survive, but thrive.

The Arthur Brooks study bears that out.

Also, why does it have to be an all of nothing equation? Take YAP for instance. This is a self forming group of predomiately ASAE members. Is this group going to put ASAE out of business? No, in fact, it may help strengthen a connection to ASAE that helped identify the like minded individuals that created YAP.

I strongly believe that the associations that remain relevant to their memebers will thrive. But hasn't that always been the case?

At Digital Now, Paul Rand, CEO of Zocalo, a powerhouse in Word of Mouth Marketing, cautioned an audience of association execs to not get too wrapped in the platform that is delivering the conversion, and pay attention and support the conversation itself.

Self-forming groups occur when there is no one doing that. Shirky's book is full of examples where this was the case.

This has been a great conversation to follow and I look forward to seeing where it goes from here.

ljunker said...

Thanks so much for posting this quote, Matt! I need to read this book.

What the quote immediately made me think of wasn't the association profession so much as the professions many associations represent. I've worked at associations before where the volunteer leadership seemed to embrace the scarcity model, and didn't want to support efforts to recruit newer or younger people to the profession: "Why should we pay to help new professionals come along and take our jobs?" It can be a real challenge to help members entrenched in the scarcity model to understand that it won't work forever and that they need to seek a new model out ...