The books opening statement begins, “In the 1720’s, London was busy getting drunk. Really drunk.” The reasoning? Time and culture. Back in London when free time was present it was spent with a nice gin. Our generation currently? The Sitcom. It has provided an escape and absorbed a lot of our free time available to the developed world. Now is the best way to devote our time? With new technology emerging in communications individuals all around the globe can become connected. What Shirky is wanting to do with all of our “Cognitive Surplus” is give back.
Since the Industrial Age we have been gaining more and more free time. One think Shirky wishes to do is spend all of our cognitive surplus helping one another. With online communications our generation has limitless opportunities. Shirky states that a lot of our motivations stem from extrinsic and intrinsic motivations. Intrinsic, he saw, led to happier individuals. How cognitive surplus and public communications come into play are creating environments in which individuals can reach out to one another. We can attest this to new tools such as the web, mobile phones, and new software. Being able to stay connected will lead to more people doing good for more people. An example given is by some Grobanites (fans of Josh Groban). We saw through the use of technology that people were able to donate to the David Foster Foundation through JoshGroban.com. At this site it allowed people to come together, share goals, and egg each other on to do some good. Without technology this never would have happened. Before they had to go from show to show to ask for funds as opposed to now it is more easily accessible. And that is the essence of what Cognitive Surplus is all about. Doing the most good for the most people with the resources we are given. Utilization of these tools could greatly help our society and provide individuals with inner value knowing that they are helping people.
Here is a link to a TED talk given by Clay Shirky on the benefits of Cognitive Surplus: https://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cognitive_surplus_will_change_the_world