[small world+(circles+clusters)]+[coordination+collaboration]=collective action

Kadushin provides us with the theoretical underpinnings of social networks. However, it is Shirky – one of the “rock stars” in the area of media studies/social software … who highlights social media’s technologies-network effect, on society and the economy in a manner that explains the phenomena we see today as – collective action.

Collective action is so much more than aggregates of individuals explained via small world, circle phenomena, homophily, etc. It embeds the affordances of the social software platforms that have become ubiquitous in today’s connected-networked society. Collective action is seen in the coordinated-collaborative efforts of the return of Ivanna’s lost phone – the “sidekick” in Here comes everybody (2008, Shirky):

     “The whole episode demonstrates how dramatically connected we’ve become to one another.  It demonstrates the ways in which the information we give off about our selves, in photos and e-mails and MySpace pages and all the rest of it, has dramatically increased our social visibility and made it easier for us to find each other but also to be scrutinized in public.  It demonstrates that the old limitations of media have been radically reduced with much of the power accruing to the former audience. It demonstrates how a story can go from local to global in a heartbeat. And it demonstrates the ease and speed with which a group can be mobilized for the right kind of cause” (pp. 11-12).

According to Shirky (2008) in Collective action and institutional challenges – central to collective action is the lowering of transaction costs afforded by our social technologies and the Internet. Moreover, within networks – weak or strong – sharing information and the collaborative process requires minimal hassle. The gap between intent and action has narrowed … “what technology did do was alter the spread, force, and especially the duration of the reaction, by removing obstacles”.

The return of the “sidekick” is one example of how “ordinary tools” of the Web 2.0 era, has resulted in the extraordinary coordination-collaborative effect among a network of weak and strong ties to mobilize into collective action.

So yes, it is more than math … the missing variable in my equation is:         +[social media technology] … the requirement for coordinating and lowering transaction costs.

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