29 June 2010

Clay Shirky's shaky launch of Cognitive Surplus

Clay Shirky has been making noticeable waves in the internet world since his 2008 book "Here Comes Everybody" and now he is making waves across London for the launch of his latest book "Cognitive Surplus". I joined in the wave at the LSE and was looking forward to hearing Clay give a longer talk than the ones I had heard at TED etc.

I had been to talks at the LSE before but this was my first time in the impressive New Academic Building. It lacks the character of the old building but it more than compensates with its comfort and facilities.

I went straight from work expecting there to be bit of a queue and was pleasantly surprised to be ushered in to a second row seat about half an hour before the talk began. An opportunity to read a little more Mark Twain.

After a brief introduction, Clay spoke for about half an hour opening with his theory on Cognitive Surplus using the Wikipedia story as an example.

Other stories followed on how the internet is enabling the motivation and time that people already had to create things of communal, public and civic value.

They were good stories and were well received by the (mostly student) audience but they were old stories familiar to those of us who have dabbled in web2.0 in recent years.

They were also disconnected stories and it was not at all clear what hypothesis they were trying to prove, if any.

New book, old stories, no insight.

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