Monday, July 12, 2010

Using Cognitive Surplus to Create Civic Value

Clay Shirky talks about cognitive surplus in this thought-provoking TED speech.

Shirky explores the difference between communal value and civic value. The creation of LOLcats, inside jokes and pet projects provide communal value. Civic value is created when participants make life better for the society as a whole, not just a self-selected group.

I like Shirky's finishing statement, where he quotes Dean Kamen, founder of the FIRST program - "free cultures get what they celebrate."

Shirky explains that the largest gulf is in between those who have undertaken and published a simple creative act, like making a LOLcat, and those who have not.

After listening to this presentation, I have three ideas:

Inspire myself and my colleagues to design and publish something creative, even if it is only meant to have communal value.

Discover how to design my work assignments to add civic value to my community and state, and express that to members of my team.

Find ways to celebrate the creation of civic value.

I first heard about Skirky from author and blogger Seth Godin. I enjoyed reading Shirky's book Here Comes Everybody. The book explores what happens when the tools of collaboration become inexpensive enough that groups can form and create value without formal organizational structure. Read Shirky's blog on Here Comes Everybody here:

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