This short video was taped at Web 2.0 Expo in late April. I was there, but unfortunately wasn’t in the audience. Nevertheless, I came across this a few days after the conference was over, and was blown away. I have a vested and personal interest in the “why’s” of social media – I am always looking for answers to the big questions, the questions that ask whether this is as transformative as we all believe it to be. Shirky goes a good distance in explaining some pivotal motivations for our changing online behaviour with an explanation of what he calls the cognitive surplus. Take a look for yourself; I guarantee it will be the most informative and thought-provoking 15 minutes of your day.


  1. drew ellis

    User experience pros have started to realize that this is more of an era where user-generated content is the next killer “app” waiting to be harnessed, but I don’t think I’ve heard a more succinct explanation of the “why” of this phenomenon than when Shirky said: “media that is targetted AT you but does not INCLUDE you may not be worth sitting still for…”. To my mind, this is the very insight that should be informing web and product design for the coming generations. Thanks for the inspiration Maggie.

  2. I don’t think I’ve literally said “wow” after watching a video before. The mental shift of free time as an asset and not a crisis is so well put.

    It seems people (myself included at times) are afraid to open up their web sites to participation for fear of what might happen – something someone else does, that they may not have full control over, appearing on their branded portal. But after listening to this and observing the trends we can’t afford not to. Give people a way to participate and share and something you couldn’t have dreamed of can happen – you can tap into the world.

  3. I get this completely. I all but stopped watching TV years ago because the internet gave me the ability to have a larger say in what content and interactions I’m exposed to.
    Now with so many options for user generated content, I can easily contribute to what’s out there.

  4. I have been tracking Clay Shirky myself and, as part of my daily study of various leaders (peoples & companies), I recently did a cliff notes writeup of his presentation @ TechExpo 2.0 around the topic here:

    So if you want one man’s opinion on what he emphasized (like how Gin drove the Industrial revolution and how TV is our Gin today) might be worth a gander. Either way … good stuff.

    Hope it helps

  5. Well well well…..Maggie, once again your sharing some incredible and credible resources.

    I come to the world of social media from the perspective of organization learning and performance. Historically learning organizations push content out to learners, measure themselves on consumption and smile sheet feedback. My quest is to help organizations understand the value proposition in having the collective (employee, channel partners) user base to produce and share learning, knowledge across the enterprise while positively impacting the bottom line results of the organzation. Great points made in this clip, the major one, moving from a consumption model to produce and share. Now the big task is changing organization cultures to embrace it! Thanks again Maggie, Brenda Brenda

  6. Joe Jacklin

    Great video! Definately an eye opener for the non-user and he is very descriptive of the potential of this media. After seeing this video, I now realize the potential that this medium has…quite breathtaking actually! Great story at the end that summed it up!

    Thanks M

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