Sometimes at night I’ll wonder what’s on TV. Surf around for a while, not find much, and get on the computer instead. There, I might update Facebook, tweet something on Twitter. And I’ll think, “It didn’t use to be like this.” Time away from work and responsibility used to be passive, we watched TV mutely, we read a book. We didn’t post videos to YouTube or edit Wikipedia. Online culture has meant that instead of just consuming culture, we also create it and share it. We don’t just watch Lost, we watch it and then go on message boards or even make our own videos.
This is a shift detailed in Clay Shirky‘s new book Cognitive Surplus: creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age. He teaches at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU and has been a big thinker on the way we work together online for many many years. We talk to him about what this shift means for society in the long term.