When reading the first chapter of Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody a few days ago, the idea that people could come together into groups so much easier on the internet really hit me. Some of the other texts and articles we have read this chapter have touched on the way the internet connects us all, but the story about the missing cell phone and how everyone got involved to return it really showed how the internet has changed us.
Of course this story is not typical. Usually there isn’t a happy ending, but people continue to try. It’s crazy what kinds of stories gain popularity, but I think it has a lot to do with how you present it. Shirky says:
“Had he [Evan] presented his mission in completely self-interested terms (‘Help my friend save $300!’) or in unattainably general ones (‘Let’s , fight theft everywhere!’) the tools he chose wouldn’t have mattered. What he did was work out a message framed in big enough terms to inspire interest , yet achievable enough to inspire confidence.”
The idea is similar, but with a few notable differences in another success story I found (http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Im-lost-Help-me-find-my-family/144491355562803 ). On July 18th, 2010 a couple found a child’s stuffed animal. They started up a facebook page entitled “Help me Find my Family” and soon they had a large following. Like the story at the beginning of Here Comes Everybody, they got help from all kinds of people all over the world (More than 11,00 people followed the page) and it was even broadcasted on a few television networks. It only took them a little more than two weeks to get the stuffed animal back to the child it belonged to.
I think one of the main reasons that people got so involved in the story of the stolen phone was that it happens so frequently and people could relate. Though not many people can relate to losing a stuffed animal (at least not many people actively using the internet), people can relate to the loss of an item that is important to them. The fact that it was helping a child probably also contributed to the support.
I think the real thing that made it so popular was that the cause was so unselfish. People seemed to legitimately want to get this stuffed animal back to the child even though it wasn’t worth much. Regardless of the reasons for doing it, this story and others like certainly show how people can come together to accomplish something in a way they never could before.