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Extended Audio Sample Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, by Clay Shirky Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,671 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Clay Shirky Narrator: Kevin Foley Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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For decades, technology encouraged people to squander their time and intellect as passive consumers. Today, technology has finally caught up with human potential. In Cognitive 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. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • An informed look at the social impact of the Internet. Kirkus

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Bernd | 2/13/2014

    " great assessment of the trend toward crowdsourcing and its cultural relevance "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by John Caves | 2/10/2014

    " Terrific book! I love the correlation between gin abuse in 17th century England and TV use today. Very insightful! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Owen | 9/1/2013

    " This was a weak three stars. I suppose when you write a book as successful as his first one, you are going to write a second one, even if you're not sure what you want to say. The writing was fine, and the subject was interesting enough, but the whole endeavor left me without an answer to the basic question "so what?" I'm not even sure I agree with the premise that we watch less tv; I contend fewer people watch the same shows, but that is due to segmentation more than participatory technologies like the Internet. We could argue about this but we run up against the same question as before, and I still don't have an answer. Full of sound and fury indeed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Scott | 7/25/2013

    " Shirky offers an interesting narrative for our new digital age. He suggests that the aggregate of internet use offers some very powerful possibilities. Though he offers a number of examples, the readily available one is Wikipedia, which essentially shows the power of millons of people to document and organize a virtually infinite amount of information. Among other examples he offers couchpal.com and pickuppal.com and a network that allows people in violent countries to track human rights abuses. Though he glosses over other elements of living in the digital era, he does offer a glimpse of the hopeful possibilities that the technology affords. "

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