Clay Shirky on Institutions V Collaboration

I’ve posted talks by Clay Shirky before.  This one is from TED a while back but seems somehow more relevant now than it might have been a few years ago.

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

His ideas about collaberation seem to chime with my own thinking about the church as an institution and the problem it faces.  The church is an institution seems based on knowledge and control of that knowledge and access to it.  There is of course nothing wrong with striving to deepen our knowledge but my concern has always been that to set apart a whole class of people as the keepers of that knowledge devalues the insights and discoveries of anyone outside that group.

It seems to me that Shirky is talking about the same thing when he talks about the potential of open source collaboration and free access.  The problems for the church in that prospect are the same as for any institution.  If anyone can contribute and if that contribution is to be valued, or at least proves to be valuable, where does that leave the institution as it no longer has a monopoly on knowledge, insight and understanding.

If the church has set itself up based on that mediation of knowledge and structures itself to maintain that mediated access then Shirky’s vision of open source, open comment, the long tail and grouping knowledge and information through tagging and sharing means big trouble for the institution… but a big future for communities of believers.