Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

You are part of today's cultural revolution.

Clay Skirky at the Web 2.0 (yes, I also hate that label) Expo 2008 in San Francisco, gave a talk on "the cognitive surplus" that's driving the current revolution in our civilization. It's 16 minutes long, but if I sat through it from home, you can too... or just read some excerpts:

[The cognitive surplus] "is so large that even a small change could have huge ramifications. Let's say that everything stays 99% the same, that people watch 99% as much television as they used to, but 1% of that is carved out for producing and for sharing. The Internet-connected population watches roughly a trillion hours of TV a year. That's about five times the size of the annual US consumption. One per cent of that is 100 Wikipedia projects per year worth of participation. I think that's going to be a big deal. Don't you?"

"Here's what four-year-olds know: A screen that ships without a mouse ships broken. Media that's targeted at you but doesn't include you may not be worth sitting still for.

"Those are things that make me believe that this is a one-way change [like the Industrial Revolution, unlike flagpole-sitting]. Because four-year-olds, the people who are soaking most deeply in the current environment, who won't have to go through the trauma that I have to go through of trying to unpack a childhood spent watching Gilligan's Island, they just assume that media includes consuming, producing, and sharing."

"If we carve out a little bit of the cognitive surplus we now recognize we can deploy, could we make a good thing happen?"

This is what Shirky discusses in depth in his new book, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. (Thanks to starstraf for the tip.)

Damn. Here we are, in the midst of a cultural revolution. Y'all out there, reading this and doing your own blogging and editing Wikipedia and sharing photos and music online? You writers, musicians, and other artists finding ways to involve your audience? You're part of this revolution.

Tags: ideas, the human condition

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