Monday, July 05, 2010

The Cognitive Surplus - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

This TED talk by Clay Shirky really surprised me, and it turned out to be much smarter than I thought it would be initially.

First, because, he's talking about using the web for crisis management and I'm thinking, so what? I don't live in Africa. I don't live in Haiti. Also, because in the early part of the talk he sounds very corporate, which is at odds with the content to follow.

But then he changes gears and starts talking about Cognitive Surplus and he links it to generosity, which is a nifty way of repurposing Marx for the information age. In this case, the surplus is not profit, and in fact, as he demonstrates, the logic of markets fails in these instances. Instead, the surplus is in human potential, which is always looking for opportunities to create and share.

Then he gets in the kicker, distinguishing between communal generosity which is silly and fanciful (LOL Cats), and civic generosity which is imaginative and world-changing (crisis management web sites). Both are good, but the latter has the ability to unlock the creative energy of people all over the world in ways that engage us in the emerging post-consumer, post-capitalist society of tomorrow.

That's a lot of great ideas to cram into a 15 minute presentation.