Clay Shirky: MyBarackObama Imitates a Social Network without Really Being One

A great point from Clay Shirky in the audience at PDF: if you really look at MyBarackObama, it seems like a social network but it actually contains relatively little lateral conversation. I.e., it’s portrayed as a social network, but people aren’t using it as one — it’s not as much of a person-to-person communications tool as we normally think of social networks as being. So, does that make it a top-down tool masquerading as a bottom-up tool? And if it’s not a real social network, what is it?


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Colin Delany
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  • This is an interesting point, when the tool set that the Obama campaign has seems to have the fundamental components of a social network. What makes MyBO fundamentally different from say Facebook or Myspace is the purpose people are using it. People don’t necessarily go to to catch up with friends and

    I think what we will start to see more of are political websites that have these social networking features, but with more functionality to allow people to organize within their communities more effectively. Right now there is a somewhat of a top down feel to some of these tools because this is new within campaigns and staffers may not be able to afford to test functionality in the heat of a cycle.

    I expect some great things on the horizon, like volunteer management centers for district coordinators built into sites and additional tools that bring constituents closer to the staff level within campaigns.