How is your ‘Cognitive Surplus’?

    Cover of "Cognitive Surplus: Creativity a...

    Cover via Amazon

    I’ve been enjoying Clay Shirky’s thought-provoking novel Cognitive Surplus, about how social media has transformed our hobbies, our work, our economy and lives. Shirky claims that social media creates the first fundamental change in media economics since Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 15th century. Traditionally, the media industry has existed on a high-investment (equipment), and consequently high-risk business model. Today, publishing on the Web is free (e.g., this blog). Additionally, social media has birthed a surplus of hobbyists striving to do just that – be published. Even professionals, such as IT programmers, use these opportunities to output their own, new creations in open source technology or via crowd sourcing. Shirky coins this as “digital sharecropping” where, like land sharecroppers of days past, creators today output, for little or no money, onto web publishing environments they don’t own.

    Why? I personally look back to the dot-com boom where it seemed everyone had a great idea for a new web-based money-making solution. After that bubble burst, it’s as if we resigned the economy to itself and invested our great new ideas into our new hobbies – in social media channels. Shirky goes on to give some justification for this. Psychological studies have proven that financial offerings or motivations often crowd out intrinsic motivations of personal curiosity and creativity. In other words a piece of ourselves goes into our hobbies that doesn’t go into our work. To some of us that may be obvious, but consider it on a national or global economic scale in modern times…

    Now that we’re living in an age of post-Gutenberg economics, I’ll look forward to understanding, tactile identification of new economic growth and positive momentum. How about you?

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    Jake Aull | Marketing Strategy | Social Media & SEO | Digital & Creative
    email | | @jakeaull |