I just read an interesting article by Clay Shirky, Gin, Television and Social Surplus. He says that we have a social surplus right now. In the early industrial revolution, people had surplus time, so they drank gin. He says we eventually figured out how to use our time with more education, public libraries and museums. We had another social surplus around World War II and the 40 hour work week and we used the extra time to watch TV. Clay Shirky argues that we are just now beginning to use some of that time more productively in producing knowledge As an example, he says if we used 1% of our TV watching time writing content, we’d produce the equivalent of Wikipedia ever year!
The Internet-connected population watches roughly a
trillion hours of TV a year. That’s about five times the size of the
annual U.S. consumption. One per cent of that is 100 Wikipedia projects per year
worth of participation.
He makes a call for every content producer (like tv) to have a mechanism for users to interact, produce and share knowledge. Here’s his story to prove his point:
was having dinner with a group of friends about a month ago, and one
of them was talking about sitting with his four-year-old daughter
watching a DVD. And in the middle of the movie, apropos nothing, she
jumps up off the couch and runs around behind the screen. That seems
like a cute moment. Maybe she’s going back there to see if Dora is
really back there or whatever. But that wasn’t what she was doing.
She started rooting around in the cables. And her dad said, "What
you doing?" And she stuck her head out from behind the screen
and said, "Looking for the mouse."
Here’s something four-year-olds know: A screen that ships without a mouse ships
broken. Here’s something four-year-olds know: Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not
be worth sitting still for.
How much of your free time do you spend watching tv? How much do you spend producing something?