Wanted to clue you in to
a couple web pleasures. One is Edge: GIN, TELEVISION, AND COGNITIVE SURPLUS A Talk By Clay Shirky, in which Shirky talks about how society’s “cognitive surplus” — the time and brain power contained in the free time created by the Industrial Revolution and the 40-hour work week — has moved from building cultural infrastructure (libraries, democracies, museums) in the 19th century to TV in the post-War 20th century and the Internet (at least for many people) in the 21st century.
The benefit of this last move, Shirky argues, is that the Internet can actually put some of this cognitive surplus to work, as it does on, say Wikipedia. (This all came to Shirky’s mind, he explains, when a TV producer he knew said of people writing and editing Wikipedia ,”Where do they find the time?” and Shirky thought, “They take it from your TV programs!”)
It’s a good riff with some interesting implications — though, as someone who didn’t even have time to watch Shirky’s whole 16 minute video lecture (I read the transcript instead), I can’t quite relate to the free time thing. But then, I don’t get TV, and I’m a freelancer, so no 40-hour work week, and these kids … Oy. Time?
But apparently some people have it, and while some watch TV, Shirky has interesting things about the ones who are using the Internet to apply their cognitive powers by producing rather than just consuming.