Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age

Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age

by Clay Shirky
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Overview

Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age by Clay Shirky

The author of the breakout hit Here Comes Everybody reveals how new technology is changing us from consumers to collaborators, unleashing a torrent of creative production that will transform our world.

For decades, technology encouraged people to squander their time and intellect as passive consumers. Today, tech has finally caught up with human potential. In Cognitive Surplus, Internet guru Clay Shirky forecasts the thrilling changes we will all enjoy as new digital technology puts our untapped resources of talent and goodwill to use at last.

Since we Americans were suburbanized and educated by the postwar boom, we've had a surfeit of intellect, energy, and time-what Shirky calls a cognitive surplus. But this abundance had little impact on the common good because television consumed the lion's share of it-and we consume TV passively, in isolation from one another. Now, for the first time, people are embracing new media that allow us to pool our efforts at vanishingly low cost. The results of this aggregated effort range from mind expanding-reference tools like Wikipedia-to lifesaving-such as Ushahidi.com, which has allowed Kenyans to sidestep government censorship and report on acts of violence in real time.

Shirky argues persuasively that this cognitive surplus-rather than being some strange new departure from normal behavior-actually returns our society to forms of collaboration that were natural to us up through the early twentieth century. He also charts the vast effects that our cognitive surplus-aided by new technologies-will have on twenty-first-century society, and how we can best exploit those effects. Shirky envisions an era of lower creative quality on average but greater innovation, an increase in transparency in all areas of society, and a dramatic rise in productivity that will transform our civilization.

The potential impact of cognitive surplus is enormous. As Shirky points out, Wikipedia was built out of roughly 1 percent of the man-hours that Americans spend watching TV every year. Wikipedia and other current products of cognitive surplus are only the iceberg's tip. Shirky shows how society and our daily lives will be improved dramatically as we learn to exploit our goodwill and free time like never before.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594202537
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/10/2010
Pages: 230
Sales rank: 1,321,533
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Clay Shirky teaches at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, where he researches the interrelated effects of our social and technological networks. He has consulted with a variety of Fortune 500 companies working on network design, including Nokia, Lego, the BBC, Newscorp, Microsoft, as well as the Library of Congress, the U.S. Navy, and the Libyan government. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Times of London, Harvard Business Review, Business 2.0, and Wired, and he is a regular keynote speaker at tech conferences. Mr. Shirky lives in Brooklyn.

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Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shirky suggests a new world of involvement leading to projects we can be proud to contribute to. He writes about how people meet online for one type of interest but build separate organizations with real impact in separate fields offline. This was easy to read (thoughts flowed well from one to another). Shirky provides links and endnotes to follow up as well.
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RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
This brainy book, with its fascinating historical and scientific references, illuminates a central aspect of 21st century life - what people are doing on the Internet actively and jointly with the thinking time they used to spend watching TV passively and alone - and enables readers to see this slice of human experience in a new way. New York University professor Clay Shirky intelligently and insightfully explains how putting the Internet and its online social media tools into the hands of nearly two billion people who have more than a trillion hours of free time is resulting in a new, optimistic and empowered world. He cites such unique, useful Web developments as Wikipedia, PickupPal, the Apache Project and countless other online wonders. If you don't yet fully understand the potential of social media, you will when you read this book. getAbstract recommends this outstanding work to anyone who wants to know more about how and why the Internet and social media are dramatically changing the world.
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