Joe's Reviews > Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age

Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky
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Sep 29, 2011

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bookshelves: nonfiction
Read from September 29 to October 04, 2011

While I preferred "Here Comes Everybody", this book was interesting as well. It's basically an examination of how people use online tools to change the world. The book tends to feel Polyannaish and I don't think Shirky went nearly deep enough in his examination on how tools like Facebook and Twitter can be used for evil. I also think that LOLCats is a rather trivial example of group collaboration(Shirky admits this), so why bother with it at all. I'd liked to have seen discussion of 4chan, anonymous and other places/personas on the Internet that don't always work as a force for good. Shirky is obviously pro-sharing, and pro amateur production without really discussing the filter failure this creates and how we might deal with it, whether it be by curation or algorithm. Clearly, Shirky set out to prove or at least suggest a positive use for online tools, but ignoring the less than savory uses doesn't make them go away, nor does it give users an adequate picture of how online tools really work.
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