“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution” was said by technology writer Clay Shirky at SXSW (South by Southwest, a conference in Austin, TX) in March 2010. The comment was cited in Twitter and was quickly dubbed the “Shirky Principle.”
Wikipedia: Clay Shirky
Clay Shirky (born 1964) is an American writer, consultant and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. He has a joint appointment at New York University (NYU) as a Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and Assistant Arts Professor in the New Media focused graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). His courses address, among other things, the interrelated effects of the topology of social networks and technological networks, how our networks shape culture and vice-versa.
Clay Shirky’s big idea at @sxsw: Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution. This does apply to the press.
9:18 AM - 14 Mar 10
Mar 14, 2010 - 10:45AM PT
SXSW: Shirky’s New Opportunities in Public Sharing
BY Liz Gannes
Today social technology theorist Clay Shirky delivered a fitting counterpoint to Danah Boyd’s keynote on privacy at SXSW the day before. Where Boyd spoke of the danger of making information more public than users intended it, Shirky talked about new opportunities for sharing information online and elsewhere.
Here’s the Twitter-esque soundbite version of the speech:
* “Abundance breaks more things than scarcity does.”
* “Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.” (Shirky’s fellow NYU professor Jay Rosen used this quote in what looked to be the most repeated tweet from the session, from what I could see, though I’m not sure it was the nugget of the talk.)
The Technum (Kevin Kelly)
The Shirky Principle
“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.”—Clay Shirky
I think this observation is brilliant. It reminds me of the clarity of the Peter Principle, which says that a person in an organization will be promoted to the level of their incompetence. At which point their past achievements will prevent them from being fired, but their incompetence at this new level will prevent them from being promoted again, so they stagnate in their incompetence.
The Shirky Principle declares that complex solutions (like a company, or an industry) can become so dedicated to the problem they are the solution to, that often they inadvertently perpetuate the problem.
April 02, 2010
The Shirky Principle
Kevin Kelly comments on this recent quote by Clay Shirky that he dubs the Shirky Principle:
“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.”
The Personal MBA:
Master the Art of Business
By Josh Kaufman
New York, NY: Portfolio (Penguin Books)
Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.
—CLAY SHIRKY, PROFESSOR AT NYU AND AUTHOR OF HERE COMES EVERYBODY AND COGNITIVE SURPLUS
Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works, 2nd Edition
By Howard Pitler, Elizabeth R. Hubbell and Matt Kuhn
Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
As author Clay Shirky writes, “Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.”
The LewRockwell.com Blog
When Will the Voters Learn?
Posted by Wilton Alston on October 19, 2012 03:53 PM
“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.” ~ Clay Shirky