This book was doomed to age poorly. With a copyright date of 2008, it’s now three years out of date; and 3 years is an eternity in the world that Here Comes Everybody tries to describe.
I think it’s worse than that for me, though, because the target audience of this book is clearly someone trying to "figure out what this MySpace thing is all about" over the weekend. But I’ve been steeped in this world for years: I’ve experimented with all the major blogging platforms (and written my own). I’ve done MySpace and Facebook and I met my spouse on twitter. I’ve gone to meetups and tweetups and had my pictures picked for flickr groups and printed Moo Cards and handed them out. I’ve re-syndicated all of my social media feeds to FriendFeed (which barely even exists today) and tried out federated status networks.
Which is to say that this book felt like a remedial course on how I’ve spent my spare time since I started college back in 2001. It’s not that the content of the book is bad, because it’s not. But it didn’t tell me very much that I didn’t already know.
The final chapter (and, to an extent, the epilogue) was good, though. This was where Shirky finally took all of the stuff from the rest of the book and tried to tie it together into a "this is how everything works together" narrative. I definitely got value there; but it would’ve been served better as a blog post. I also have started seeing power distributions everywhere. I’d not thought of the world in that way before, but I do now. So that’s a definite plus. I read non-fiction to acquire context about the world, after all.
So, this is a great crash course on social technologies and what they are. There’s a very little bit about how to harness them (and largely the advice is "Don’t try. The advantages of social technologies is latent and organic."). So that can be useful and informative, I suppose. But, if you intend to read it, do so quickly: I’m not sure that it’s going to hold up for another three years.