Grasping the Concept of Social Surplus

Although suffering the CodeCampOz heavy cold my mind still seems to be active. It has been stimulated by a post by Clay Shirky entitled Gin, Television and Social Surplus that espouses material from his book Here Comes Everybody.

Clay estimates that Wikipedia has taken 100 million person hours to produce – 100 million hours of social surplus. US television viewers spend 200 billion hours (100 million hours of ads) each year or 2,000 Wikipedia projects. Worldwide the TV watching figure is about 1 trillion hours. If everyone reduced TV watching by 1 per cent and contributed to a social media project we could have 100 Wikipedia projects each year.

The problem is how to harness such a social surplus. We now have myriads of small social media projects that need to be coalesced. This is the next big challenge for social media. Clay shows us that the industrial revolution came to pass after the gin drinking stopped. What will the social media revolution be like?

Thanks to Jon Udell for his post about collaborative data curation for the Clay Shirky link.


About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

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