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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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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The information age – thoughts on how ‘search’ is evolving, and the impact of Google Books

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Some commentators say that after the agricultural and industrial ages, we are now in the information age. That may be true – information is everywhere, to the extent that we are almost drowning in it. Websites, blogs, podcasts, webcasts, etc. And that’s only online – on top there are newspapers, books, DVDs, videos, records, tapes, and live performances (unrecorded, and lost forever except in the memories of those present?). Google, and others, are trying to help people search through the world’s information, including now also the information previously not available online.

As part of its goal to help people search through the world’s information Google is digitizing ‘old media’ content so that it can also be searched (Google Books’ Library Project and Partner Program).

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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.

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!