People have always created things in their spare time – whether tinkering in their sheds, fixing cars, making quilts, painting, taking photos or other creative hobbies. This is not new. However, what is new is that the digital space is allowing millions of people to combine these efforts on mass scale, huge projects of potentially incredible benefit. Clay Shirky recently introduced a term to describe this human contribution in non-work hours, “Cognitive Surplus”.
Here is an example of cognitive surplus visualised:
For years, we have consumed media – now we may find that digital media allows us to simultaneously consume and create. Media as a collaborative service, rather than a product. Passive and active consumption are options. Think about the changes to sports viewing, to live TV, to debate, to conversation. More than just doing something as inane as tweeting while a show is on, we’re talking about genuine co-creation – choose your own adventure – across all media, across any topic or issue. Crowdsourced problem solving, beyond distributed computing, into distributed thinking. The opportunities are bloody exciting.