Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus is a fascinating and attractive idea, but unless you are a student, idle, rich or all three, there may not be a surplus of energy at all. As Ian Delaney put it in his post “Looking for my cognitive surplus“:
So yes, cognitive surplus. Wonderful notion. And when most people?s working hours are reduced to four a day, as Russell proposed, we might genuinely start to see what those trillion hours can do. But we need time off, too.
I get Ian’s point. In the comments to his post I mention that my own blogging was prolific during a phase where I was working some things out. Then my blog has been fallow at times while I have been applying some of the things I learned. Though I could be wrong, I get the feeling I am beginning to need to blog again – as I discuss with Ian in the comments to his post, it is all about finding the balance that works for you at the moment.
It is also the case that I was almost manic at times with my work-rate when I was blogging. Travel took away some of the surplus, fascinating projects took away yet more and I gladly surrendered an awful lot of my “spare” time to a growing family.
There is often more surplus there than we think, however, even when we’re not so exhausted the last thing we can bring ourselves to do in the evening or morning is fire up an RSS reader or a blog editor. There are scraps of surplus throughout the day, if we can get into the habit of sharing and thinking out loud.
I should note that I have yet to read Cognitive Surplus, although a copy is on its way. From the talk and the reviews I can see there’s a ?lot of exciting ideas in there. I’m going to read it next month when I am on holiday and wallowing in a surplus of cognitive cycles…
: : Bonus link: Russel Davies has a very good dog-ear precis of Cognitive Surplus on his blog (a post which finally nudged me into using the excellent StickyBits service – thanks, Russell.).
: : And here is the TED talk from Clay on Cognitive Surplus. It begins with the story of a platform that really excites me, Ushahidi, which I discussed here a little while ago. iphoto