New Book From a Fascinating Internet Thinker

Are you or any of your friends Grobanites? Grobanites are not space aliens, but rather fans of singer Josh Groban.  A number of Grobanites connected online, in order to run an auction that initially raised $16,000 in honor of Josh Groban, which led to the eventual creation of the Josh Groban Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation that has raised nearly a million dollars for a variety of charities.  None of these Grobanites had experience running a charity; nor did they have any goal of creating a new organization.  Instead, they had time, the means to connect (the internet) and most importantly, as far as internet guru Clay Shirky is concerned, they had passion and love for what they were trying to do.

Shirky's Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age offers many other anecdotes of people using their free time to create and share with no particular profit motive.  Contrary to what many assume, money is not the only thing motivating this type of behavior - Wikipedia, open-source software and the Grobanites are just three examples of sharing for a common good.  According to Shirky, there is a spectrum of types of sharing, from uncoordinated sharing based around common interests to sharing that helps communities or society as a whole.  There are various motivations for these types of sharing, and these motivations are explored in this book.

Clay Shirky is one of my favorite internet trendwatchers and his blog is a must-read if you're interested in the internet; in particular its effect on old media.  If you're looking for a business book that considers the psychology behind why people share, Cognitive Surplus is a good option.  It's a nice overview of participation on the internet, and it offers some tips for organizations looking to take advantage of these online social interactions.

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