Cognitive Surplus – Chapter 2



FaceBook is taking over our lives.

No really. Everyone has it. I haven’t met anyone in ages where the question “Do you have a FaceBook?” was met with a negative response. We log on and read it multiple times a day. We’re more involved in other people’s business than our own. Shirky puts forth the idea that the separation between “cyberspace” and the “real world” is becoming increasingly irrelevant. And you know what? He’s right. I know more about people from high school I haven’t seen in 19 years than I do about my brother. They’re right there. Every day. Telling me how their day went. About their new cat. About the car wreck they were in, and a reason for every day in November that they’re thankful to be alive, and what they’re thankful for. I’m pretty sure my brother still works at Trademark, but I can’t be 100% sure. I’m sure I’ll find out at Christmas.

According to Shirky, we are in the midst of another printing revolution. Where the first printing revolution came about with movable type, enabling quick and easy printing on a massive scale, this new printing revolution is more about “the shock of the inclusion of amateurs as producers”. In other words, the explosion of self publishing that has come about in the past few years. Media has become not just something we consume, but something we contribute to, we help produce it. Shirky says we live in a culture of “abundance” rather than “scarcity”. Growing up we had 4 channels. 2, 4, 9, and 11. And for our intents and purposes, channel 4 didn’t exist. Most of the time, we watched channel 9. PBS. Now you can get basic cable, and instantly have 100+ channels. Never mind getting something beyond basic. I personally have 600+ channels, and a DVR. And I don’t watch TV except for the occasional movie or DVR’ed show. 4 channels vs 600+. It’s staggering to think about. Books are much the same way. Musical CDs are released at an exponential rate. I remember walking to Peaches with my dad to look at vinyl, and them having 3 rows of albums. 3 rows. Now you can walk into a large music store like Virgin, and see thousands upon thousands of different CDs. On one level. Then go upstairs. There is so much more out there now that it’s almost impossible to see or hear it all.

Today has become a culture of more, more, more, now, now, now. Citizen reporters  and journalists have help feed that need for more, right now. The London subway bombings are one example. The riots in Egypt are another. While I appreciate news from a fresh perspective, when I want to find out the news, I will still typically check something like While they have iReport, and citizen reporting, I find that those reports tend to have a definite slant to their point of view rather than just reporting the news. Sometimes they’re a good thing, especially when they have footage that hasn’t hit the wire yet, but I still tend to prefer a professionally written story that has done their fact checking. But if I hear through the grapevine about something, I’m going to start peeking at that iReport section. Or even just use Google and see who’s blogged about it.


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