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Journal of nicholas (3034)

Monday March 16, 2009
05:35 AM

Gin and sitcoms

[ #38650 ]

Via O'Reilly Radar I read this transcript of a talk restating an argument that the critical technology of the early phase of the industrial revolution, was gin, and stating that similarly for the 20th century [at least the second half] the critical technology was the sitcom.

It defines this nice concept - the cognitive surplus, and calculates that in the U.S. alone that's 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television. It suggests that even a small change in the proportion of [passive] TV watching to [active] contributing could have big changes. But the bit I liked best:

I 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.

My emphasis (based on why parents like programs such as the Teletubbies), but it reminds me a lot of my niece. She sees my sister using her computer, and wants to join in. So they gave her a keyboard. But she knows that she's been conned, because when she does things on her keyboard, nothing reacts. :-)

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  • It's inspirational like a lot of Clay Shirky's talks. Another thing we have to look forward to is the exploding population. Think of the 'cognitive surplus' we're going to have when the population doubles!
    • Think of the 'cognitive surplus' we're going to have when the population doubles!

      It rather depends on whether the doubling of the population due to an increase in older individuals, no longer able to think, thanks to degenerative diseases, and all the younger folks having to work two to four times as hard just to look after them.

      On a global basis, much of the overall growth in older prospective workforce of older ages will be occurring in China. For its part, nearly all of China’s increases inworking-