cognitive surplus

via Clay Shirky

How cognitive surplus will change the world

Clay Shirky looks at “cognitive surplus” — the shared, online work we do with our spare brain cycles. While we’re busy editing Wikipedia, posting to Ushahidi (and yes, making LOLcats), we’re building a better, more cooperative world.

Clay Shirky argues that the history of the modern world could be rendered as the history of ways of arguing, where changes in media change what sort of arguments are possible — with deep social and political implications.

ushahidi means witness or testimony in swahili – taking reports from the field, aggregating it and putting it on a map

takes tacit information available to whole population, everybody knows where violence is, but no one person knows what everyone knows, and takes that tacit info and aggregates it and maps it and makes it public – crisis mapping – jan 2008..

not possible without tech and generosity – rely on both as resource – call it

cognitive surplus

ability of world population to volunteer/contribute/collaborate on large sometimes global projects

1/ world’s free time and talents – world has over trillion hours a year of free time to commit to shared projects (existed in 20th cent – but we didn’t have tech/ushahidi ness)


2/tech that let us do more than consume – we weren’t couch potatoes because we liked to be – that was just the only opportunity given to us


now – ancient motivation allowed to be joined up..

temptation to get the ushahidi ness without the lol cat ness.. but freedom to experiment is freedom to experiment – media abundance never works that way

shared source –  is designed for generosity – one of curiosities of our historical area.. how important our intrinsic motivations are.. (ie: boss/pay)

7 min.. study 10 day care centers in israel – at highest tension time – pick up time

on average – 6-10 late pick up – late pick ups went up when fee added, the fine broke the culture.. the debt had been ridden.. 10 shekels to pick my kid up late..

we are rational, self-maximizing act, the social constraints (rather than the contractural constraints) created a culture that was more generous

fine for a dozen weeks.. then nothing changes. culture that got broken by fine stayed broken..

lol cats is communal value

ushahidi is civic value – better for everyone in society..

civic value is not just a side affect..

dean camen – free cultures get what they celebrate


10 day care center ness



book links to amazon


i’d suggest rather.. eudaimoniative surplus