Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky
This book was recommended by Kantar CEO Eric Salama in a corporate email from September(ish) of 2011.
It took me forever to get through. The ramblings of this author seem to run the gamut. It wasn’t until chapter 7 that he seemed to try to tie any of it together. Had the book been written in a different order, I probably would have been more into it and it would have made more sense.
This book had the potential to be inspirational and world-changing as he points out all the potential good that could be done if we would come together as a society and use social media for more than cats with funny captions. He points out some fantastic examples and talks about how they came to be, why they survive and what makes them truly special. I wish I would have taken notes as I read this book because it would make it easier to write this review. Unfortunately, I did not. I’m not going to go back and re-read it in order to assemble this review, either. You can’t make me. I don’t want to.
If you are aware of sites like donorschoose.org and ted.com then you’re aware of the positive potential of society when we act together. If you’re older than 30, then you’re aware of how the internet grew to be what it is today. If you’re a geek, like me, then you’re familiar with how we went from AOL to individual web pages to geo-cities to myspace and then to facebook. We clearly don’t know what’s in store for the future and we can’t predict how people will use technology and thankfully, Mr. Shirky doesn’t make any attempts to predict what might be on the horizon.
If, on the other hand, you’re not familiar with man’s ability to create a greater good and you think that the best the internet has to offer is /b/tards (oh, wait… you probably don’t get the 4chan reference) then you’re likely to get something out of this book. If you’re under 30 or over 70, then you may learn something from reading this book.
There weren’t any take-aways in this book that I could apply to my daily life.
There weren’t any inspirational quotes that I could pull from it.
There weren’t business practices that will make me a better leader.
There were no dog-eared pages when I finished.
There were no markings in the margins.
There were no highlights.
I never sent an email to my friends telling them they needed to pick up this book… now.
About the only take-away from this book is: Next time, take notes as you read that way you can do a proper job ripping a book you don’t like.
The simple fact of the matter is, this book bored me.