Where do people find the time?

Alarm clockI’ve been playing a lot with Web 2.0 stuff recently (flickr, LibraryThing, ma.gnolia, this blog, wikis, YouTube, Myspace etc – professionally at work and privately at home) and when I talk about it friends and colleagues often comment along the lines of “oh I don’t have time for that” or “I don’t know where you find the time”.  (Mind you they said that 20 years ago when I “wasted” time on a touch typing training course my employer made available on our mini-computer network!)

 Well, now I know where the time for all this web 2.0 participation is coming from!  A note in Paul Budde’s email newsletter led me to his article The Thinking Society  and from there to the marvellous Clay Shirky and his talk at the Web 2.0 conference in April this year.  Paul Budde summarises the core of the argument here:

Shirky puts this nicely into perspective. In the USA alone people spend 200 billion hours a year watching TV. Narrowing that down, they are watching 100 million hours of advertisements a weekend. So we could ask the same question: ‘Where do those people find the time?’.

 It is mind boggling to consider the enormous potential of people using their free time in active intellectual pursuits – using what Shirky calls the ‘cognitive surplus’ to communicate and interact. The one trillion hours per year currently spent watching TV is the equivalent of producing 10,000 Wikipedias annually.

You can find the transcript of the full talk, wonderfully titled Gin, Television and Social Surplus on his blog at http://www.herecomeseverybody.org/. Here comes everybody : the power of organising without organisations is Shirky’s book on:

what happens when people are given the tools to do things together, without needing traditional organizational structures.

You can also see the talk on You Tube!  How this impacts on the library world (i.e. Library 2.0 )is already a matter for debate, planning and action – have a look at the publications and projects in the NSLA website and see how we in Australia are beginning to act at a national level.  Check out the catalouge record for Here comes everybody in the National Library’s catalogue for an example of a more interactive catalogue…  We are in the midst of a revolution!

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