Tuesday, April 29, 2008


The Cognitive Surplus

(via) This is already everywhere online, but you know what? I don't care. I'm sharing it anyway.

Here is Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody, on what he calls the "cognitive surplus," and the way in which television for the last half of the 20th century served the same societal role as gin in the mid-19th. This is genius.

(The transcript is here, if you don't have fifteen minutes to spare, but trust me. Find fifteen minutes to spare by, I don't know, skipping a few commercials...)

Intriguing ideas and he's definitely on to something.

Odd aside though. Imagine hair on him and Shirky looks, talks and acts exactly like Tom Hanks. Not just similar, but eerily exact.

Bill Willingham
Huh. You know, I hadn't noticed that before now, but you're absolutely right.
genius? i don't know. marketing? definitely. maybe marketing genius? cognitive surplus is a nice buzzword that steps in line with cognitive overload and all the rest. yet, and it may be the word surplus, this smacks of entrepeneurship, maybe even of redemption. "oh, look, there's extra -- hey, profit! reward! salvation!" it also sounds like an extension of the "invention of leisure" argument updated for the last years of the first decade of the 21st century. no one knows what to make of leisure because, as shirky does point out, it didn't exist in such quantities before the industrial revolution (but it definitely existed before then). in fact, it's already weird to quantify something that doesn't really exist. kind of like, "well, when data is lost, do we have to worry about virtual pollution?" as shirky intended (didn't he?), adequate response to his presentation, in addition to his more explicitly articulated desire, requires essays and more essays. and does(n't) that prove his point?
So does this mean that "Be Kind, Rewind" is actually about Finding the Mouse? Hmmm...
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