Internet expert and author Clay Shirky’s new book, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, discusses how the internet enables us to use slivers of time our culture has historically spent watching television making truly incredible things — like Wikipedia.
The image above, from website Information is Beautiful, provides a nice visualisation of this idea, putting into perspective how powerful redirecting even a small portion of our collective cognitive surplus can be. Friend of Lifehacker Matt Haughey discusses the new book:
The gist of the story Clay weaves is how we’ve spent the previous 50 years staring at televisions but the internet enables us to finally talk back, and even tiny slices of the time wasted watching TV when applied towards some collective output can result in massive repositories of information like Wikipedia. He shows many contemporary examples of online collaboration beyond Wikipedia.org and breaks down the motivations for contributors that cites plenty of sociology, psychology, and economics research to back his points up.
This one’s officially on my to-read list, but whether you’re interested in the book or not, it’s a nice, hopeful idea, and something you may want to consider if you’re looking for something to do with your free time beyond flipping on the TV set — even every now and then.
Cognitive Surplus visualized [Information is Beautiful]
Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus [A Whole Lotta Nothing]