E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Cognitive Surplus and the Hippie 2.0 Connection

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las Nieves & Surroundings in the Spring I think, by now, there will be very few people out there who may not have been exposed already to the wonderful TED Talk from Clay Shirky around the topic of “How cognitive surplus will change the world“. It’s one of those delightful presentations of under 15 minutes that will surely make you think for a while on quite a few things, not just those related to work, but also those that may have a significant impact in our society overall.

That’s why, in case you may not have watched it just yet, I would strongly encourage you all to have a look and spend a few minutes going through it. Yes, it’s that good! It’s that thought-provoking as well all on its own, to the point where, in my opinion, it comes up with a good bunch of the traits that also surely inspired that blog post I wrote a little while ago around Hippie 2.0. Who would have thought about that, right? Cognitive surplus and Hippie 2.0 walking hand in hand… Of course, it makes sense.

After you watch that video clip a couple of times you realise how good Clay is at telling stories in general. He is just amazing, to be honest, more than anything because with the helpful use of that narrative he manages to get the message across rather nicely and most of the time on what really matters. With regards to this presentation on Cognitive Surplus two of those ideas he wanted to put forward have stuck with me quite a bit: that one of free time and that other one of the human generosity for the greater good, and well-being, of us all.

What’s rather interesting is how he describes both of them working together having that real significant impact in our society with some incredibly compelling stories that highlight, quite nicely, how powerful general creative acts can be and our everlasting urge to share them openly with others. He surely is spot on!

His extended commentary on explaining the gap between doing something and doing nothing is quite remarkable as well, specially since he highlights how doing something, whether it is mediocre or, on the contrary, rather good, doesn’t really matter on the end result. What matters is the getting started! Do something. Even the silliest or most stupidest of things you can think of, as he mentions quite vehemently. Stop being a couch potato! Now! Stand up and move along, more than anything because of the intrinsic motivations that will keep pushing us further along for a long while, which ties in quite nicely with that other wonderful TED Talk video from Dan Pink around the subject of “The surprising science of motivation“, which I blogged about a few months back, and which covers quite nicely what it is exactly that motivates us to act the way we do.

Yes, indeed, that cognitive surplus will certainly be instrumental in helping change the world as we know it! And, I am not sure about you folks, but I’m totally convinced that it will have that significant impact on us all, and I just can’t wait for it to happen! It all gets even better when Clay himself makes a clear distinction between two different types of value coming along from that free time and human generosity traits I mentioned above briefly: communal and civic value. He gets to explain it all really really well to the point where while watching the video I just couldn’t help thinking about the fantastic blog posts that my good friend Jay Deragon put together under the headings From Communities to Communes and Communes vs. Communities, and which clearly tie in altogether, rather nicely, with the spirit behind the Hippie 2.0 movement, don’t you think?

So I do hope cognitive surplus will help accelerate that transition from that traditional business value from the 20th century that hasn’t taken us very far, I must admit, into that interim communal value to finish off on that civic one, the one that really matters, the one that will help us make a difference, which I think will surely transcend the business world big time transforming it dramatically just as much as us in the current society we live in. It’s time to prove, once and for all, that our human generosity and all of that free time that Clay mentions can surely lead to the kind of society we would hope to live in in the next 30 to 50 years. Because so far that extra focus on the business value that’s driven us all over the last few decades hasn’t taken us too far. Quite the opposite. It’s helped us keep digging deeper and deeper and I strongly believe it is now time to resurface once again.

Time to shift gears and let cognitive surplus AND Hippie 2.0 do their job: change the world as we know it!


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