"Here Comes Everybody"

This book by Clay Shirky is getting a lot of “media: play including within educational circles. The sub-title of the book is “The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.” I will review it in more depth later, but I found this interesting transcript of a presentation that Shirky did entitled “Gin, Television, and Social Surplus.” It is worth taking a look at it.

The question that inspires the talk is, “Where do people find the time?….. to network, to learn, to blog, to be engaged on the web?”

Shirky answers,

“If I had to pick the critical technology for the 20th century, the bit of social lubricant without which the wheels would’ve come off the whole enterprise, I’d say it was the sitcom. Starting with the Second World War a whole series of things happened–rising GDP per capita, rising educational attainment, rising life expectancy and, critically, a rising number of people who were working five-day work weeks. For the first time, society forced onto an enormous number of its citizens the requirement to manage something they had never had to manage before–free time.

And what did we do with that free time? Well, mostly we spent it watching TV.

We did that for decades. We watched I Love Lucy. We watched Gilligan’s Island. We watch Malcolm in the Middle. We watch Desperate Housewives. Desperate Housewives essentially functioned as a kind of cognitive heat sink, dissipating thinking that might otherwise have built up and caused society to overheat.”

Thinking about this may not apply to being an online teacher today, but, well, maybe it does!


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