In his book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin discusses the need for a change in mindset. An abandonment of the belief that we must have permission to create and that leaders are someone more qualified than us. Godin’s (2008) definition of a tribe is “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea” (pg. 1). He believes there is a dire need for leaders because: Leadership expectations are shifting in organizations: “For the first time, ever, everyone in an organization—not just the boss—is expected to lead” (pg 12). How we conduct business is changing, making it “easier than ever to change things and that individuals have more leverage than ever before” (pg. 12). Novelty and change are being championed in the market, and there are people waiting to follow whoever stands up to the task.
Another reason Godin lists as a reason to become a leader is doing so is “engaging, thrilling, profitable, and fun” (pg. 12). While the rest of his thesis can be applied to our discussion of the hyperlinked library, I believe this reason is the best place to start because this tribe-forming concept of leadership and ultimately entrepreneurialism shares an important driving force that participatory culture and the hyperlink library also support: Fun.
Godin also discusses the importance of true fans and not caving to the status quo. Defying the status quo chinks well with the hyperlinked library model: “hyperlinking subverts existing organizational structures” (Stephens, 2020). The hyperlinked library’s mission involves breaking down the traditional definitions of “library” and creating something new and something where users—the tribe—are invited into the movement of the library but also the library’s future. With the emphasis on participatory culture, hyperlinked libraries can even create a breeding ground for leaders of new tribes. By subverting organizational structures—opposing the status quo, hyperlinked libraries create a space that can support the type of leadership Godin encourages. The hyperlinked library’s commitment to user experience is perfect for creating and maintaining true fans, because it gives permission to people permission to lead and be part of a community—a tribe, instead of simply being a building you go to when you need information. Godin says anyone can lead, and by focusing on user experience the hyperlinked library encourages and fosters that belief.
This book is short and fast-paced with provocative headers and ideas that align well with this class’s discussion regarding the hyperlinked library. However, I feel the need to put out a disclaimer that—despite its length—I struggled to get through it. While I agreed with a lot of Godin’s points, the tone of the book is something like a desperate (even accusatory) used-cars salesman. Godin’s audience is unclear—or rather, his audience is everyone. Which, considering the subtitle of the book, is unsurprising. Godin claims he wants to draw people into leadership, encouraging the time is now: he intends to convince people of his beliefs. But, as someone coming to the party brand new to his ideas, he seems to be preaching to the choir instead of drawing new people to his cause.
Godin, S. (2008). Tribes: We need you to lead us. Penguin Group.
Stephens, M. (2020). The Hyperlinked Library: Exploring the model. https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=a0569381-4d66-4e0a-a7fa-aab3010a8f3e