AIIM - Association for Information and Image Management

03/26/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/26/2020 16:14

Summer Reading: Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky

I'm on my summer vacation, which has afforded me some welcomed reading time. One of the good things about using a Kindle or Kindle on an iPad for reading is the ability to use highlights to create a running summary of a book's highlights. Even better is that these highlights are aggregated across ALL readers. So in effect, any book can have a built-in summary, generated by the wisdom of the crowds - pretty cool stuff.

Please enjoy this Kindle-generated summary of my most recently read book, Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky.

A Summary of Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky

This is the second of Clay's books I've read. If you haven't read Here Comes Everybody, get it today, especially if you work at or are involved in an association.

'Watching sitcoms-and soap operas, costume dramas, and the host of other amusements offered by TV-has absorbed the lion's share of the free time available to the citizens of the developed world.'

'The cumulative free time in the postwar United States began to add up to billions of collective hours per year, even as picnics and bowling leagues faded into the past. So what did we do with all that time? Mostly, we watched TV.'

'Did you ever see that episode of Gilligan's Island where they almost get off the island and then Gilligan messes up, and they don't? I saw that one a lot when I was growing up. And every half hour I watched, it was a half-hour in which I wasn't sharing photos or uploading video or conversing on a mailing list. I had an iron-clad excuse-none of those things could be done in my youth when I was committing my thousand hours a year to Gilligan and the Partridge Family and Charlie's Angels. However pathetic you may think it is to sit in your basement pretending to be an elf, I can tell you from personal experience: it's worse to sit in your basement trying to decide whether Ginger or Mary Ann is cuter.'

'It isn't what we watch, but how much of it, hour after hour, day after day, year in and year out, over our lifetimes. Someone born in 1960 has watched something like fifty thousand hours of TV already, and may watch another thirty thousand hours before she dies.'

'In 2010, the global internet-connected population will cross two billion people, and mobile phone accounts already number over three billion. Since there are something like 4.5 billion adults worldwide (roughly 30 percent of the global population is under fifteen), we live, for the first time in history, in a world where being part of a globally interconnected group is the normal case for most citizens.'

'The two most important transitions allowing us access to this resource have already happened-the buildup of well over a trillion hours of free time each year on the part of the world's educated population, and the invention and spread of public media that enable ordinary citizens, previously locked out, to pool that free time in pursuit of activities they like or care about.'

'There have always been people willing to argue that an increase in freedom to publish isn't worth the decrease in average quality; Martin Luther observed in 1569: 'The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no measure of limit to this fever for writing; everyone must be an author; some out of vanity, to acquire celebrity and raise up a name; others for the sake of mere gain.' Edgar Allan Poe commented in 1845: 'The enormous multiplication of books in every branch of knowledge is one of the greatest evils of this age; since it presents one of the most serious obstacles to the acquisition of correct information by throwing in the reader's way piles of lumber in which he must painfully grope for the scraps of useful lumber.''

This is a good book. Read it.