I went to hear Clay Shirky last night at the Berkman Center speaker series - really interesting for a number of reasons. One, I've been reading snippets of his stuff since I worked in the micro-payments space...he was really not a fan but I think the market ended in a draw. Independent payment vehicles like Bitpass didn't work out but iTunes and Amazon have shown that you can sell individual songs successfully at low prices...but perhaps not in isolation.
Clay's biggest point last night was that he thinks we are moving into an era of collective action - made significantly easier by the online communication channel. He gave a number of very interesting examples which are all in his new book "Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations".
The point that I found most interesting however was "Publishing is for Acting". For years we have made the collective assumption that reading news (or I supposed any published media) is to be 'informed' or 'entertained' vs. to spur an action on our part.
While Shirky's point was illustrated primarily with consumer examples, this is similar to a point I often make about enterprise information repositories, including email and search. My question is always: what are you going to *do* with the information once you have it? A lot of enterprise search and BI apps are just starting to provide workflow around information access so that the user can collect, organize, summarize, comment on, pass along, link to, and rate the information they find. This is partly why I find the Zimbra email application that Yahoo! bought last year so interesting. It automatically recognizes dates, locations, names - and if you integrate into ERP systems PO #s, project IDs, clients, etc. and right from an email the user can either drag and drop a date into an OpenTable or a Expedia 'zimlet' and get reservation or flight information or, in the case of enterprise info like a P.O., accept or reject it directly from the email. Now that is a profound change in how we perceive an email exchange - it makes the exchange part of an activity...not just something to read and dismiss or 'save for later' when so often 'later' becomes never.
Definitely something to think about and leads my to evaluate my information sources and what I need to *do* with all the information I access. My job is to summarize, synthesize, and highlight the interesting bits but how often do I do that effectively and what are the practices and tools I need to do that better?