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1 Burnside Sociology- General

Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age

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Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age Cover

ISBN13: 9781594202537
ISBN10: 1594202532
Condition: Underlined
Dustjacket: Standard
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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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Synopsis:

The author of the breakout hit Here Comes Everybody reveals how new technology is changing us for the better.

In his bestselling Here Comes Everybody, Internet guru Clay Shirky provided readers with a much-needed primer for the digital age. Now, with Cognitive Surplus, he reveals how new digital technology is unleashing a torrent of creative production that will transform our world. For the first time, people are embracing new media that allow them to pool their efforts at vanishingly low cost. The results of this aggregated effort range from mind-expanding reference tools like Wikipedia to life-saving Web sites like Ushahidi.com, which allows Kenyans to report acts of violence in real time. Cognitive Surplus explores what's possible when people unite to use their intellect, energy, and time for the greater good.

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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kare, October 16, 2010 (view all comments by kare)
From slave trading to watching kittens on treadmills - there are many ways "we" use what Shirky dubs our "Cognitive Surplus" - otherwise known as our free time. The invisible gorilla, Get Satisfaction, wellness community, Bikewire, kiva and etsy are just some of the online places we’ve shared for fun, money-making, justice, special interests, tips or support. With more free time and the spread of “public media” ordinary citizens can “pool free time to pursue activities together” suggests Clay Shirky in Cognitive Surplus, his follow-up to Here Comes Everybody.

Yet, where are we heading with this growing capacity to actively share and co-create? Towards extraordinarily satisfying and dangerous “opportunities” I’ve found. Shirky covers the upside. Here are some points from his book, followed by the dangerous downside of the trends he cites that are covered in other books. These effects will touch all our lives so it’s vital to be aware of them.

The Benefits of More Free Time and Capacity to Share and to Organize

• “The wiring of humanity lets us treat free time as a shared global resource, and lets us design new kinds of participation and sharing that take advantage of that resource. Our cognitive surplus is only potential; it doesn’t mean anything or do anything by itself. To understand what we can make of these new resources, we have to understand, not just the kind of actions it makes possible but the hows and wheres of those actions.”

• “Back when coordinating group action was hard, most amateur groups stayed small and informal. Now that we have the tools that let groups of people find each other and share their thoughts and actions, we are seeing a strange new hybrid: large, public amateur groups. Individuals can make their interests public, more easily, and groups can balance amateur motivation and larger coordinated action more easily as well.”

• “The geographic range of collaborative efforts has spread dramatically. When Linus Torvalds first asked or help creating what would become the Linus operating system, he received only a few replies, but they came from potential participants all over the globe. Similarly, Julie Clarke, Valerie Sooky, and Meg Markus all lived in different places when they were forming Grobanites for Charity, but that didn’t stop them from creating a charity that’s raised a million dollars.”

• “Today people have new freedom to act in concert and in public. In personal satisfaction, this goal is fairly uncomplicated – even the banal uses of our creative capacity (posting YouTube videos of kittens on treadmills or writing bloviating blog posts) are still more creative and generous than watching TV.

• “Personal value is the kind of value we receive from being active instead of passive, creative instead of consumptive.”

The Dangerous Downside to Most Anyone’s Increased Ability to Share and to Organize

Yes, people like sharing and collaborating, as Shirky suggests yet many are adept at both for illegal goals. There is a tragic and growing dark side in this increasingly connected world as Moses Naim points out in Illicit. From trading in women, guns and drugs, illegal activity has also grown more “creative” and “active” and connected groups of bandits, terrorists, pirates and self-described global businessmen in a more efficient, larger activity. As Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn have found there are now more enslaved and traded girls and women in than there were blacks at the height of slavery.

As well, we increasingly connect with people who share our beliefs, according to The Big Sort and Going to Extremes. A dangerous consequence of closer connections with like-minded people is not limited to terrorists. As a group continues to bond it tends to take more extreme stances on the beliefs that brought them together – and to become more intense in those beliefs. With our innate desire to belong, contribute and be known – and the greater capacity to connect, share and organize described by Clay Shirky, it behooves us to be aware of the downside tendencies of organizing groups as we enjoy the upsides.Also as low-paid writers for eHow and LIVESTRONG, wine and other “content farm” workers have discovered, we’ll see other downsides to increased connectivity.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781594202537
Author:
Shirky, Clay
Publisher:
Penguin Press
Subject:
Management - General
Subject:
Telecommunications
Subject:
Creativity
Subject:
Information technology
Subject:
Information society
Subject:
Mass media -- Social aspects.
Subject:
Management
Subject:
Computers Reference-Social Aspects
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20100631
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.28x6.02x.89 in. .84 lbs.
Age Level:
18-17

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Product details 256 pages Penguin Press - English 9781594202537 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
The author of the breakout hit Here Comes Everybody reveals how new technology is changing us for the better.

In his bestselling Here Comes Everybody, Internet guru Clay Shirky provided readers with a much-needed primer for the digital age. Now, with Cognitive Surplus, he reveals how new digital technology is unleashing a torrent of creative production that will transform our world. For the first time, people are embracing new media that allow them to pool their efforts at vanishingly low cost. The results of this aggregated effort range from mind-expanding reference tools like Wikipedia to life-saving Web sites like Ushahidi.com, which allows Kenyans to report acts of violence in real time. Cognitive Surplus explores what's possible when people unite to use their intellect, energy, and time for the greater good.

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