Shirky, C. (2008, April 23). Gin, Television, and Social Surplus. Web 2.0 Conference.

Clay Shirky argues that with the rise of the five-day workweek, society finds itself with a cognitive surplus. So far, we’ve mostly spent that on television, but there’s an opportunity to divert some of that surplus towards participation, towards creating things together.

As of 2008, Wikipedia represents {100M} hours of thought; US TV represents viewing {200B} hours, annually. In fact, US viewers spend {100M hours just watching ads each weekend}. Worldwide, the internet-connected population watches {1T} hours per year; so 1% of TV watching time would represent {100 Wikipedia projects per year of participation}.

See also Participatory environment.

Q. What’s Clay Shirky’s term for the free time created by the five-day work week and other rising levels of attainment in the 20th century?
A. Cognitive surplus


Here’s something four‐year‐olds know: Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for.

From now on, that’s what I’m going to tell them: We’re looking for the mouse. We’re going to look at every place that a reader or a listener or a viewer or a user has been locked out, has been served up passive or a fixed or a canned experience, and ask ourselves, “If we carve out a little bit of the cognitive surplus and deploy it here, could we make a good thing happen?” And I’m betting the answer is yes.