Sitcom TV and the Cognitive Surplus

Thanks to Nick @ Nite, I spent the 1990’s watching classic American sitcoms. From I Love Lucy to Bewitched, I loved meeting my family after a sun-filled summer day around that television. But as the years went on, it was the lure of a new screen in the room – the computer – that pulled me away from the connectivity of those nights and into the future.

Clay Shirky reminded me of those memories when I watched his 2008 Web 2.0 Expo talk about the “cognitive surplus.

Here is the back-story.

In 2008, Shirky credited the television sitcom (summary here: Gin, Television and Social Surplus) as the most critical technology of the last few decades. He says, and I paraphrase – that as the country came into the five-day workweek around the start of the second World War, society experienced something new: free time. Problem was, people, like my grandparents, didn’t know how to handle it. So they “panicked” – and flocked to TV that acted as the “social lubricant” to our patchwork society. For decades, it linked us all together. It was present media. And with the onset of the Internet, web 2.0 and the long tail of choice, the sitcom and well, TV, has been challenged by choice.

If you follow Shirky’s perspective, he goes on to say that society is just now waking up from a collective bender, a bender that has exposed a cognitive surplus. Massive amounts of time that people choose to spend in different ways – from updating Wikipedia page to creating video content to building a personal brand.

So who will be the game changers that create the new sitcom – the new social lubricant? Will there be one or many? And who will find the avenues to construct the new model of business, news and entertainment around it?

I can’t wait to dig into Shirky’s new book – fittingly named The Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age.

Posted via email from EricaAmerica’s posterous

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