Current technology has given us an unprecedented opportunity to absorb, internalize, and otherwise utilize vast amounts of information, data, and services, and we have taken advantage of this; but the same technology also provides the opportunity for a more proactive possibility.
We can create.
As Clay Shirky has noted in his discussions about the concept of cognitive surplus, most of us have two instinctive qualities:
(1) We Love to create, and
(2) We want to share our creativity
The impulse to create and share, or to be generous with our creativity, can result both in important serious work, and also in creative work we might consider trivial, such as cute cat videos, Shirky says.
What’s important though, in Shirky’s eyes, is that as trivial as it might be, the making of a cute cat video, is nevertheless a creative act.
It bridges the gap between doing something creative and doing nothing.
Shirky believes that current technology is ideal for creativity, sharing, and generosity.
By taking advantage of that capability, each of us could help avoid a negative answer to philosopher Eric Hoffer’s pessimistic question, asked decades ago:
“One wonders whether a generation that demands instant satisfaction in all of its needs and instant solutions of the world’s problems will produce anything of lasting value…” (1)
Shirky seems to suggest that cognitive surplus and the current generation will, in fact, assist us in producing contributions of lasting value.
Here’s a link to a Ted Talk in which shirky discusses these ideas and cognitive surplus:
(1) Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition, Harper & Row Publishers, New York, 1973