Link: TOC 2010: Arianna Huffington, ‘Publishing Is Dead; Long Live Publishing!’
Self-expression is the new entertainment. So, you know, we used to never question the fact that people could be sitting on a couch for seven hours watching bad TV. Right, and nobody said, “why are they doing that without anybody paying them?”
Clay Shirky also speaks about how passive consumption need not be the primary means of entertainment in Gin, Television, and Social Surplus, one of my favourite of his talks.
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.
And it’s only now, as we’re waking up from that collective bender, that we’re starting to see the cognitive surplus as an asset rather than as a crisis. We’re seeing things being designed to take advantage of that surplus, to deploy it in ways more engaging than just having a TV in everybody’s basement.
That we have the means to contribute to a global bank of knowledge and entertainment, rather than simply being broadcasted at, is one of the very important societal changes caused by the internet. I think it’s also at the root of many of the “problems” for traditional industry and media production; though I’d regard it more as an “opportunity”.