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Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age Hardcover – June 10, 2010


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Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age + Civility in the Digital Age: How Companies and People Can Triumph over Haters, Trolls, Bullies and Other Jerks (Que Biz-Tech) + Groundswell, Expanded and Revised Edition: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The; 1St Edition edition (June 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594202532
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594202537
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"An informed look at the social impact of the Internet." ---Kirkus --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

About the Author

Clay Shirky teaches at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, where he researches the interrelated effects of our social and technological networks. He has consulted with a variety of Fortune 500 companies working on network design, including Nokia, Lego, the BBC, Newscorp, Microsoft, as well as the Library of Congress, the U.S. Navy, and the Libyan government. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Times of London, Harvard Business Review, Business 2.0, and Wired, and he is a regular keynote speaker at tech conferences. Mr. Shirky lives in Brooklyn.

More About the Author

Clay Shirky teaches at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University, where he researches the interrelated effects of our social and technological networks. He has consulted with a variety of groups working on network design, including Nokia, the BBC, Newscorp, Microsoft, BP, Global Business Network, the Library of Congress, the U.S. Navy, the Libyan government, and Lego(r). His writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Times (of London), Harvard Business Review, Business 2.0, and Wired.

Customer Reviews

Clay Shirky's "Cognitive Surplus" is an excellent followup to "Here Comes Everybody".
Neil Wehrle
Much of the book describes quite a few things about why people behave the way they do and some of the great and terrible things that have happened as a result.
Jeff Bennett
One of my Top Ten for 2010: This is unequivocally one of my favorite books published in 2010 (I read about 100 a year).
William Dahl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

156 of 161 people found the following review helpful By Mark P. McDonald VINE VOICE on June 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Clay Shirky captured the ethos of social media with his book "Here comes everybody." He follows that book up with one that concentrates on the fundamentals of turning our cognitive surplus into value. Cognitive Surplus provides a compelling and clear description of the fundamentals of social media and collaboration as well providing principles that are guiding developments and innovation in this space.

There are many books out there that either describe the social media phenomenon or profess to provide a `recipe' for success. Neither of these approaches can provide you with the insight needed to effectively experiment and deploy social media for the simple reason that social media is changing too fast.

The book is organized into seven chapters that outline a complete way of thinking about social media.

Chapter 1: Gin, Television and Cognitive Surplus sets the context of social change and evolution of free time. This chapter sets the context for the rest of the story giving you the perspective to think through the issues.

Chapter 2: Means discusses the transition of the means of production from one of scarcity controlled by professionals to abundance and the participation of amateurs.

Chapter 3: Motive captures the essence of the reasons why people contribute their time, talent and attention to collective action. Here Shirky talks about issues of autonomy, competence, generosity and sharing.

Chapter 4: Opportunity recognizes the importance of creating ways of taking advantage of group participation. This chapter contains discussions of behavioral economics and the situations which generates group participation.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Alycat on June 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
My TIVO hates Clay Shirky. In his piercing new book Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age Shirky asserts that the technological revolution has enabled us to work together to conquer challenges big and small, if we'd just watch less TV and commit to participating in something other than our own mental decay.

TV watching on a per capita basis has increased for 50 years in a row, and that staggering amount of time has come largely at the expense of human connectedness and innovation. Before TV we entertained ourselves by interacting, making and doing, whether it was paper airplanes, a game of Yahtzee, or family harmonica night.

But at least in places with electricity, we've largely retreated into our heads, with the flicker of TV as the endless soundtrack.

But all is not lost, if you just commit to turning away from Starsky & Hutch, and toward the opportunities for greater good.

In this meticulously researched book, Shirky suggests that the historical barriers to collaboration (principally time, expense, and the ability to easily find like-minded people) have been largely stripped away, enabling us to make better use of the unused brain cells (our cognitive surplus) made dormant by TV addiction.

The book includes several compelling examples of groups creating and maintaining impressive online collaborations, without a profit motive in sight. Harnessing the power of the collective (crowdsourcing for social change) is a thread woven throughout Cognitive Surplus, and its viability requires two of Shirky's assertions to be accurate.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Hampus Jakobsson on July 20, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I often find Shirkey to clearly summarize what everyone is thinking of around the evolution of (social) media, but this time he only made half of the book excellent. The book has two parts:

1. Can be summarized well in the quote "the wiring of humanity lets us treat free time as a shared global resource, and lets us design new kinds of participation and sharing that take advantage of that resource". Great points, but in fact pretty much what was between the lines in Here Comes Everybody.

2. a How-to-use-the-cognitive-surplus-of-the-planet-guide - some great points, but this format does not suit the standards Shirkeyisms. It is way too much of a list of ideas, some around game mechanics (intrinsic motivations of people - think Foursquare/Gowalla), some around group dynamics and external motivations (think Facebook), and some just repeats of how new media (if you must say it, say "social media") is different than old media, summarized well by the quote: "intimacy trumps skill. For similar reasons, I sing "Happy Birthday" to my children, even with my terrible singing voice, not because I can do a better job than Placido Domingo or Lyle Lovett, but because those talented gentlemen do not love my children as I do. There are times, in other words, when doing things badly, with and for one another, beats having them done well on our behalf by professionals".

I wish Shirkey would have developed the book as two separate books.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By B. Ramlow on June 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although it is a very good topic, I think it could have been written in article form instead of a book. He has many different examples of how the internet has changed social media as a whole but basically comes to the same conclusion with every example. "Instead of consuming media we can now produce and consume."

The first chapter is very illuminating as Shirky takes you through London at the very start of the industrial revolution. Most of the citizens of London were commuting from the suburbs to the city for work. To meld into this new social setting and lifestyle they drank gin. A lot of gin. This was their "social lubrication" to get through life in dirty, polluted, new city life. They were using their free time to drink. 8 hours of work, 8 hours of drinking, and 8 hours of sleeping.

For the past 50 years, post-industrial revolution; post war era, the educated population of the world has been using most of their free time to consume television. This 8 hours of work, 8 hours of TV, and 8 hours of sleep has been our social lubrication and use of most free time. Over 1 trillion hours of TV is watched per year when it could be used for other, more productive activities.

This is where the rest of the book takes off with example after example of how the internet has given ordinary people the opportunities to speak back to the media and government. With camera phones being owned by millions of people, anyone can take a picture or video of anything they are near and post it on the web.

There really are many good examples of how new technologies have given the lay man the opportunity to 'be heard' or produce media that they otherwise would not have been able to. But as I said earlier he always comes to the same conclusion after each example.
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