Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cognitive surplus

Well I know I haven’t been posting in like forever and it is not for lack of thing to talk about. No, it is mostly for lack of will to devote time to the blog away from my phd thesis, my facebook account, my salsa classes and everything else that going on in my life (sorry no girlfriend yet). I’ve been wanting to post something new and intriguing for a while and now thanks to Monte Cook I’ve found something: this.

Now, normally I’m very skeptical about social science and what they deduce, predict and propose. I’m sorry but when someone comes and tells me that all science is a social construct and that science has a weak link with the truth, well I get skeptical. Yes I will agree that society as a very strong influence on what science get promoted and also gets funding but nonetheless the observation of science (if not the explanation) remain independent of human society. Remember whatever the true explanation of gravity is Newtonian Theory, Einstein Theory or something else altogether the observation remains that objects fall toward more massive object. Anyway, the article point is that society is close to a changing point into a new version of itself, kinda like the industrial revolution but on a different level. He talks about how TV as been a way to “waste” the extra free time we did not know what to do with in the past and that now new “productive” things are emerging. He even goes into quantifying the amounts of time and cognitive power we have “available” for those new endeavors.

Think about it, the US populations collectively watch about 1 trillions hours of TV a year (which probably means that Canadian watch around 100 millions hours of TV a year) and a project like wikipedia (in all languages not just English) required about 100 millions hours of work. That mean every year, just in Canada we could do something as big and as impressive as the whole wikipedia project, the US could do 10 wikipedia EACH YEAR… now imagine if the whole planet worked on project like that. Ok, true it is doubtful that all hours spend on TV would be transferred to “productive” project but even if 1/1000th of those hours was transferred that would give us an amazing amongst of idea and new project. Imagine all that brain power, coding power and time that could be used for bettering mankind and society. That just amazing, once science and technology as brought us amazing ideas.

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