Cognitive Surplus

Posted from: ON L4S 2G6, CanadaAfter seeing the following TED talk:…

By Clay Shirky on the topic of cognitive surplus, I was reminded of a discussion this week on Facebook. Parties to the discussion thought users of Facebook are sharing private information without knowing the full consequences of their deeds. Although this is a common argument that I’ve heard of countless times, it does have its merits. This is a popular argument against the use of social networking sites like Facebook by parents, trying to ward off their innocent teenagers against unknown threats. However, after watching this insightful video and the idea that we are transitioning from a crowd of information consumers to a population (or dare I say a generation) of content creators, I now see platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to have the potential of being the general enablers of cognitive surplus, which Clay Shirky defines in the video.

Another idea that I noted when watching the video is that the quality of the content is less important than the ability to generate and share the content. This brings me back to some of the same ideas introduced in the book, “The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations”, published in 2004, written by James Surowiecki. I bring this up because it is easy to criticize mundane and stupid tweets on Twitter, such as when people tweet what they eat and when they go to bed. However the same pointless information may be useful in a different context. For example, a study on dietary habits or sleeping patterns. I guess in the world of cognitive surplus, it is better to have more information diluted by a spectrum of quality, than to have restricted information perhaps curated by a biased party.

Just jotting down some random thoughts after watching another inspirational TED video.

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