Shirky discusses the necessary complex interaction of a promise, tool, and bargain with the users in order for a group to be successful. The promise must offer a more valuable lifestyle in some way than he or she currently leads (261). In this case most social media sites promise some variation of reducing transaction costs, as Coase would say, to simplify collective action. The tool “must be designed to fit the job being done” (265). It is a complex interaction because certain tools work for different sites depending on group size, outreach, etc. These tools will reshape our society with the bargain from the users. The people ultimately decided how a tool should be used and what they can expect.
The formula for a group’s success is present when discussing Putnam’s argument about social capital. He believes that participation in groups is declining and therefore our social capital is as well, which will hinder our society. However, Putnam mainly blamed this lack of social capital on television and factors like suburbanization, which make it harder to connect with one another. Shirky allows us to think of how the Internet is changing how we gain social capital. Because “society before and after [this] revolution [is] too different to be readily compared”, can online tools be a substitute for traditional community interaction (305)? Since “falling transaction costs benefit all groups, not just groups we happen to approve of”, is our society changing for the better or for the worse (208)?
Rheingold allows us to think about collective action dilemmas and how they are the “perpetual balancing of self-interest and public goods” (32). Is this new form of communication changing the way we work with one another? Because people can hide behind a screen, there are defectors from the rules, and freeloaders who do not contribute to the success of the group. This is the Tragedy of the Commons, but is there a way to manage the commons where you are not stifling their voice? Too little intervention allows trolling and undesirable consequences, but too much intervention defeats the purpose of the Internet as a free space.
There are many questions still in debate about groups online, their potential for collective action, and the effect they have on our society. However we do know that these tools are allowing society to share and work together and are changing society quickly.