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The author of the breakout hitHere Comes Everybodyreveals 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. InCognitive 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.
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ISBN-10:  1594202532
ISBN-13:  978-1594202537
Author:  Clay Shirky
Genre:  Professional & Technical, Health, Mind & Body, Science
Publisher:  Penguin Press HC, The
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review by . January 08, 2011
I tend to take things like Wikipedia for granted, assuming that someone has already put information out there that I need. But what drives and motivates someone to do that, and where do they find the time to participate in that fashion? Clay Shirky covers this information (and more) in his book Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age. I found myself starting to understand how and why the shift from consumer to producer occurred, and what it means to me and to society.   …
review by . September 07, 2010
According to Clay Shirky's new book, Cognitive Surplus, the average American watches twenty hours of television a week. That is a part time job. We watch more television every year, but there is a curious trend occuring; people of the younger generations are watching less. While television provides people comfort, a sense of belonging, even when alone, and it tells stories and helps people pass the time, more people are spending more time creating their own media, contributing to open source …
Quick Tip by . June 12, 2011
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Lots of potentials with regards to how we use our time & participate in this virtual world of ours. However, I much prefer Shirky's 2008 book HERE COMES EVERYBODY to his latest. We are in transition as regard to our roles in the new world and Shirky didn't quite spell out where we should focus our energies on, imho. He did bring in some interesting observations with regards to what's happening in the world of ours. As with us, this book seems like a transition, more like a series …
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