In the opening chapters of his book Clay Shirky mostly talks about how the new media help us to develop new patterns of behavior and change the old ways of thinking into something completely new.
The more people get familiar with the Internet, the more advanced applications, tools and technologies they need. The new media nowadays is interactive, it is active and all about the participation. In order to make that participation happen it needs to provide an appropriate platform.
Shirky, Boal and McLuhan all talk about the importance of participation and the power of the group work through the new means of media.
In the first chapter Shirky gives us an example of how potentially useful the Internet can be. The story that would never be covered by the traditional reporters became a huge boom because of the people who came together to help others in a difficult situation. And those people used the existent platforms for communication and participation that led to a happy ending. All the Internet platforms that were used by the participants brought all those people together and helped them to communicate with each other to reach a significant result with the help of digital media. The new media challange the existent institutions by making unorganized groups work together in harmony.
…newly capable groups are assembling, and they are working without the managerial imperative and outside the previous structures that bounded their effectiveness. These changes will transform the world everywhere groups of people come together to accomplish something, which is to say everything (Shirky, 24).
In the second chapter Shirky explains the concept of the group organizing and admits that it is very imporant. However, Shirky also challenges it by introducing platforms such as Flickr, that doesn’t need a structured organization to make the system work. He says,
“activities whose costs are higher than the potential value for both firms and markets are simply don’t happen” and this statement contrasts with the ease of sharing by the digital media (Shirky, 31).
Augusto Boal in return, in his work Theatre of the Oppressed talks about participation of the masses through the new means of theatre. He believes that the participation of the spectator is the key to a great change. The more people participate, the more significant changes it will bring. “The spectator frees himself; he thinks and acts for himself! Theater is action!” Boal believes that you cannot make a difference by being passive, instead you have to be active. According to Boal,
“Maybe theatre in itself is not revolutionary, but these theatrical forms are without a doubt a rehersal of revolution (Boal, 345).
Murray in her work “Inventing the Medium” also talks about the importance of participation. She thinks that the “interactivity” of the computer is what makes it so interesting to us and gets a response from us. That’s what she says about “interactivity”:
“Although this word is often used loosely it can be thought of as encompassing these two properties, and also the pleasure of agency, the sense of participating in a world that responds coherently to our participation” (Murray, 6).
Janet Murray explains our obsessions with the new technologies and a thirst for participation with this statement that summarizes all of the above,
We are drawn to a new medium of representation because we are pattern makers who are thinking beyond our old tools. We cannot rewind our collective cognitive effort, since the digital medium is as much a pattern of making things. We are drawn to this medium because we need it to understand the world and our place in it (Murray, 11).