Next Decade: Connecting Online Creates A Better Community

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New media professor and writer Clay Shirky expects our increasing connectivity to lead to a new era of civic values. He shares his predictions for the Internet and social networking in the next decade.


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Ari Shapiro sitting in for Scott Simon.

Throughout our show today we're checking in with some folks from different walks of life and asking them to look ahead to the next decade.

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Clay Shirky is a new media professor and he writes about the Internet and social media.

Professor CLAY SHIRKY: We will some time in the next year cross two billion people connected to the Internet, and over three billion if you're starting to count mobile phones. What I think is coming are a lot of people working on civic value. They're actually trying to change the culture they're part of.

There's a group of kids in Lahore in Pakistan, who started this group called The Responsible Citizens. And they just go out in Sundays - they organize themselves through Facebook - and they clean up garbage on market streets. And they're not doing it because they think that market street should be less garbage-strewn; they're doing it to exhibit some kind of attitude towards positive cultural participation.

So, one of the things I'd love to see happen is for us to just take this stuff for granted. To just take it for granted that you have ridiculously easy group forming. It isn't until you take it for granted that you start to figure out I know how I'm going to use these tools to make life better. I know how I'm going to use these tools to improve life in my neighborhood, in my school. I know how I'm going to use these tools to make life better for the whole world.

SHAPIRO: That's new media guru, Clay Shirky, offering his thoughts on the decade ahead.

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