Thoughts on Clay Shirky’s concept of “Cognitive surplus”

I recently came across various reviews and marketing for Clay Shirky’s new book ‘Cognitive surplus‘.  While deceptively simple, I love the “concept” of ‘Cognitive surplus’ – in two words it sums up intellectual and creative potential, and the question as to what we do with that.

One of the key points of Clay’s argument is the disparity between time spent watching television (‘consuming’) and time spent ‘creating’ / ‘contributing’, and the consequent waste of our intellectual and creative potential during this time (he compares the “200 billion hours spent by Americans annually watching TV“, and the “100 million hours so far invested in creating Wikipedia“).

David McCandle has a prepared a brilliant, simple visualization of this on his excellent website ‘Information is beautiful’ (which I see as a sort of artistic version of my thoughts on ‘Killer charts’, which I blogged about a while ago).

It was that graphic, sent to me in a link in an email from a friend, that prompted me into this post, and the following thoughts.

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Happy birthday Blog! (reflections on my first year blogging)

My blog, Matt Benson’s Musings, recently passed its one year anniversary (April 17). Hooray!

This made me think that it would be a good time to reflect: Why do I blog? How has my blog developed over the last year? In this post I address these questions.

I wrote most of this post around the time of the anniversary of my blog (and a bit more, which I’ve subsequently cropped and which might be part of a future post) – a discussion during a dinner party last night prompted me to finish this post and ‘publish’ it.

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Thoughts on privacy versus disclosure in today’s society

It seems that the last few weeks/months a number of media stories have raised an intense discussion around public privacy and social responsibility.  Some examples include:

Such discussions, while appearing on one level to be independent, and unconnected, also appear to me, to revolve around a central theme of ‘public privacy rights and the individual’s right to choose what to disclose‘.  While the first two examples relate to high-profile individuals, the latter example, as well as similar discussions around Google’s use of internet users’ information, and other trends (such as the rapidly increasing number of bloggers), shows how the topic relates to the general public also.

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Starting a blog – the basics

iStock_000001719411XSmallI’ve had a number of people tell me that what I’ve told them about my early blogging experiences has encouraged them to consider also starting a blog, and for that reason, and now that I am past my first 100 days as a blogger, I thought that I would summarize how to start a blog, based on my own experiences.

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Now that’s incredible – WordPress blog statistics for July 2009

You can read the statistics here.  I’ve copied a selection of them here (per another ‘Matt’ on wordpress.com) so that I can comment on them:

Here are July’s stats:

  • 394,609 blogs were created.
  • 5,666,839 posts were published.
  • 418,946 new users joined.
  • 6,594,795 file uploads.
  • 3,762 gigabytes of new files.
  • 839 terabytes of content transferred from our datacenters.
  • 7,890,707 comments.
  • 6,681,646 logins.
  • 1,253,217,900 pageviews on WordPress.com, and another 1,289,187,116 on self-hosted blogs (2,542,405,016
    total across all WordPress blogs we track).
  • 2,146,576 active blogs where “active” means they got a human visitor.
  • 1,419,364,230 words.

Some amazing figures here.  Over 2 million ACTIVE blogs.  Wow. Over 2.5 billion pageviews in a month.  Astounding.

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Traffic! Already?!

I’ve barely begun to build the site, and I’ve just seen that I’ve already got traffic.  This puts me under some pressure to provide some half/decent content.  I apologize if you arrived and were disappointed to find things like “test” and “Hello world!” (from WordPress), and half completed pages …

More will follow later – first I have to think of a theme.  Furthermore, this blog is not my top priority (in fact it comes quite low down the list after family, work, sleep, …).

Test page for new blog

Here it is.  Test page for a new blog.