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Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age

Clay Shirky

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.

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Book Information

Publisher: Penguin Press
Publish Date: 06/09/2010
Pages: 242
ISBN-13: 9781594202537
ISBN-10: 1594202532
Language: English

What We're Saying

January 10, 2011

It's been a while since we linked up a Friday afternoon, and since I didn't get the chance to do it last Friday, I thought I'd do so today. ➻ Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus, contributed an article to the current issue of Foreign Affairs about The Political Power of Social Media. You'll need to purchase the full length article ($0. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

August 16, 2010

When to take a hike

By Sally Haldorson

Last night I had come to the conclusion that I was quitting Facebook and maybe I would delete all of my bookmarked blogs too. Not because anything drastic happened. . READ FULL DESCRIPTION

December 10, 2010

Overconnected: The Promise and Threat of the Internet by William H. Davidow, Delphinium Books, 240 pages, $27. 95, Hardcover, January 2011, ISBN 9781883285463 As we move from an industrial era mindset that new technologies have made obsolete, our ability to be plugged in and instantly connected has introduced us to unpredicted challenges and dangers. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

October 15, 2010

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly, Viking Books, 416 pages, $27. 95, Hardcover, October 2010, ISBN 9780670022151 in-its-entirety issue—technology. Business changes. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

October 13, 2015

Clay Shirky spends a year in China chronicling China's (specifically cell phone maker Xiaomi's) attempt to be a tech originator—and what it means for the future course of globalization. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

November 24, 2010

strategy + business's "best of" list is always a special treat—in large part because it's never just a list, but a series of essays. The magazine gathers together a different team of experts each year, and each takes the task of writing on their chosen category and the books in it. I've listed their picks below, linking to the essays at the head of each category. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

August 29, 2011

When you booted up Windows 95, a man named Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno made that experience more remarkable and memorable. He made the little league game at the end of the movie Traffic seem profound and timeless—a gentle, reassuring reminder that the universe is stitched together of individual, seemingly mundane moments. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

June 25, 2010

I think most reviewers will find that Nicholas Carr's The Shallows and Clay Shirky's Cognitive Surplus hold very different, and possibly opposing, views of the Internet. But I found them to be perfect compliments to one other. Taken together, and read simultaneously, I think they provide a more nuanced and intriguing perspective of the potential effects of the Internet on our intelligence than when read alone (though they both undoubtedly stand tall in their regard). READ FULL DESCRIPTION

March 27, 2012

Net Smart

By 800-CEO-READ

Regular readers of this blog know that we're very interested (or at least I'm very interested) in how the internet is changing not only how we socialize, shop, and work, but how we think and function as human beings—individually, culturally, and as a society. Going back to 2007 when Andrew Keen's Cult of the Amateur went up against David Weinberger's Everything Is Miscellaneous, and continuing through last year when Nicholas Carr's The Shallows was released around the time of Clay Shirky's Cognitive Surplus, we've been fortunate that publishers have put out books by great thinkers that take opposing sides of the issue that we can compare and contrast. It always sparks a lively conversation. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

Full Description

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. Watch a Video

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