Two hundred billion hours
September 5, 2010 1 Comment
Like with many books, there’s a great essay hiding within the 200 pages of Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus. You can read it here, or watch it as a presentation. It’s about how television was the gin of the post-war decades, a way to make life with an abundance of spare time more endurable, but now the internet allows us to spend that time in ways that are much more useful and/or fun.
Clay Shirky and Nicholas Carr are sort of mini-nemesises. They throw little darts at each other in their books. I love that, because I’m a fan of both. This new conversation on what the internet is doing to us is the most interesting one going on at the moment. Shirky says the internet is liberating our spare time. Carr responds that we’re actually watching more TV than ever. Well, but Shirky is really talking about a potential, which is amazing even if still unrealized. And so on.
So much for the essay, which is more or less the first chapter of the book. The rest is .. the usual feel-good stuff about what nice thing some people did with social media once, and look at this Open Source thing, is that amazing or what? It’s not wrong, it’s just old, and hastily thrown together. Shirky is showing signs of being stuck in the 00’s. I say we should take the decade’s good ideas with us, and move on.
But read the essay, definitely. Go read it right now, there’s nothing more to see here.