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Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age Hardcover – June 10, 2010
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About the Author
- Publisher : Penguin Press; 1st edition (June 10, 2010)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1594202532
- ISBN-13 : 978-1594202537
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Item Weight : 13.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.85 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,898,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The author Clay Shirky looks at social media through the means, motives, and opportunity of users. Criminologists will recognize these are the three key elements of any investigation of a crime. It's a mildly imaginative methodology for Shirky's purpose which is to examine how the global surplus of cognition, made possible by our relative abundance of discretionary time, is being put to use through activities organized around social networks.
Frankly, I have a tough time defining the audience for this book. There is precious little uncovered here that would inform, or interest, even more intellectual users of the mobile net, or so I would imagine. I know from discussions with my 15-year-old son that there's not much here. I think I can cover it with him as I chauffeur him around tomorrow.
For instance, Shirky makes a point of informing the reader that the mobile net gives users control over expressing themselves, whether it's artistic, professional, or even bumming a ride to work over a carpool platform. This freedom is being used in a lot of silly pursuits, but also in exercises to organize democratic activities, shed light on global news events, or ease daily living. In a stab at profundity, Shirky uses the metaphor of social connective tissue to describe the social network, which in his estimation is primarily mobile.
But if there's little for those who populate the social network, then there's less for those whose work and reading informs there understanding of the net. Disclosure: I'm an IT analyst, but have never researched or analyzed social media. That said, there was confirmation of what I already knew, but not a single idea that was new to me.
There are much more informative books on the net and social media (I've reviewed some of them) for those interested in understanding the phenomena that is shaping our age.
Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumers into Collaborators is a must read for nonprofit leaders and anyone interested in understanding how technology has the potential to change the world for good on a scale far beyond any scale used to measure previous collaborative ventures for bettering humanity via the use of volunteers. Less of a "how to" and more of a "what could be" book, Cognitive Surplus empowers readers to imagine a different kind of world in which people intentionally and strategically partner with others around shared interests. To facilitate this type of new thinking, Shirky explores the overall motive, means and opportunity related to our current cognitive surplus alongside stories of how groups have already successfully leveraged a portion of it for good.
Unlike some writers, if Shirky tells a story, you can bet it will be original and have more than passing relevance and interest. The first story is about heavy gin drinking in 18th century London, which Shirky somehow links to social media. Nicely done. Shirky pulls from many places to make his points and seems especially keen on social psychology. As a result, he does more than tell us what's happening with social media...he always looks to help us understand "why" and what may be underpinning how people act. This book made me want to learn & do more with social media...and not just because of the booz references.
If you're looking for some ideas and inspiration, this is good book for that. Ditto if you just want to better understand what's shaping the broader trends in social media. Just know that it's not a how-to book and also that Shirkey's perspective is not entirely balanced. As a big supporter of what's possible with social media, he's sometimes apt to give more credit to social media's impact than may be due. For an interesting counter-perspective, google Malcolm Gladwell's article titled "Small Changes."
Top reviews from other countries
It's not a how to guide to social media - more of a philosophy about the digital age. I gained loads of insights and so will you, hence me writing this review so that I am social networking the good word!
It also made me stop and think about my 'free time' and how I choose to use it.