Cognitive Surplus : Clay Shirky

A sequel of sorts to his Here Comes Everybody, this book is a collection of insights from a master network thinker.

The central argument of the book is that Wikipedia was assembled using 1 percent of Americans’ television-watching time. The potential human achievements that could arise from all this “cognitive surplus” seems nearly limitless.

Wikipedia is great, but it may more of a one-off than Shirky is willing to admit. The argument is reminiscent of the supposed 90 percent of our brains we never use, and who knows what unimaginable mental powers we might be harboring if we could only let them loose.

I’m not sure I buy the argument in its entirety, and Jason Lanier would likely have many things to add about the creative force of the individual as opposed to the wiki. It also seems that more of the internet and its cognitive surplus is being devoured by kitten videos, Kanye tweets and corporate gimmickry than by productive acts of group cognitive generosity.

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