One of the brilliant minds of our time, Clay Shirky, riffs on whether the Internet brings us all to the lowest common denominator of culture. Do the dumb videos, memes and amatuer created content represent a crisis for our society or are they merely a byproduct of increasing mental productivity? Shirky argues it’s the latter, and I agree. Read the rest of his essay on WSJ.com, and pre-order his new book, Cognitive Surplus.
The present is, as noted, characterized by lots of throwaway cultural artifacts, but the nice thing about throwaway material is that it gets thrown away. This issue isnt whether theres lots of dumb stuff online—there is, just as there is lots of dumb stuff in bookstores. The issue is whether there are any ideas so good today that they will survive into the future. Several early uses of our cognitive surplus, like open source software, look like they will pass that test.
If you haven’t read his previous book Here Comes Everybody get it now.
Image via the WSJ.
- Clay Shirky’s media diet longview (sometimesright.com)
- Cognitive Surplus: The Great Spare-Time Revolution (wired.com)