When I saw Clay Shirky’s appearance on the Colbert Report of the 3rd of April 2008 I wrote down this quote:
Communications tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring. Social effects are more important than just how the technology works. (Clay Shirky)
Shirky states that social software has fewer features than other types of software which are part of its social success. In the case of blog software this is true for Blogger which turned the blog software and blogging world upside down with easy ‘one-button publishing’ but WordPress is a complicated tool. Even if one sticks with the default settings it is not a tool one uses right away.
This is why blogging platforms such as Blogger stay very popular and new tools such as Habari find a small but solid user base. Simplicity. However, does simplicity equal technologically boring or is technologically boring not thinking about the technique behind the tools anymore?
In my thesis I argued that not only bloggers and blog software but also search engines cause the blogging phenomenon to grow. The simplification of blog technology and the masking of technological features such as automatic sending of trackbacks and pingbacks could be described as software becoming technologically boring. However, social effects are connected to the working of technology and to say that these social effects are more important is a rather simplified way of putting things. I would say that the way technology works may cause social effects such as update and/or stat addiction.
Shirky’s quote keeps on raising questions. As it is part of his larger argument in Here Comes Everybody I just ordered the book to read during my Christmas holidays. Can’t wait to read it and continue thinking about this quote.