Clay Shirky on our cognitive surplus

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There’s a great talk from Clay Shirky in the latest issue of Edge — about all of our surplus, unused brain power, and what we might be able to do with it if we turn off our TVs:

How big is that surplus? If you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit, all of Wikipedia, the whole project — every page, every edit, every line of code, in every language Wikipedia exists in — that represents something like the cumulation of 98 million hours of human thought. I worked this out with Martin Wattenberg at IBM; it’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but it’s the right order of magnitude, about 98 million hours of thought.

And television watching? Two hundred billion hours, in the U.S. alone, every year. Put another way, now that we have a unit, that’s 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television.

Watch the video or read the transcript >>

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