What Happens When People Migrate To The Internet?

Jun 15, 2010

Clay Shirky, who studies the social and economic effects of Internet technologies, recently gave an interview on NPR's Morning Edition in regards to his new book, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity In A Connected Age.  From the book description:
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.
In the interview, he discusses how to collective pooling of human labor through the internet has created "surpluses" that can be deployed to affect meaningful social change. 

LOLCATs are mentioned throughout the interview as a humorous example of what this labor surplus can generate, which lead to Shirky making an interesting comment about how something can possess interactive potential and the almost default assumption of interactivity in digital media.

There are plenty of fascinating interviews and videos of Shirky online, but here's a particularly interesting talk that he gave in D.C. last year at TED@State. His assertion that the current historical generation is living through, "the largest increase in expressive capability in human history" warrants much consideration, as does his suggestion that "tools don't get socially interesting until they get technologically boring," and that the social capital is more significant than technological capital.

Tags: Clay Shirky, Cognitive Surplus, internet, lolcats, interactivity

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