Monday, July 5, 2010

Cool Stuff: Creative Collaboration

Apologies for the absolute dearth of content around here lately, I've been out of town a lot and generally otherwise occupied. I've got a few things I'm working on that'll hopefully come to fruition soon, but for now I wanted to share this really cool argument/video:

Clay Shirky, an American writer and theorist on internet technologies, has an interesting perspective on the value of creative collaborative activities on the internet. This includes everything from knowledge databases Wikipedia to memes like Lolcats. He sees the internet as a significant leap forward in terms of human culture, comparing the hours spent actively utilizing it to those spent passively watching television. In describing the inherent worth of even something as trivial as Lolcats, Shirky argues that "the stupidest possible creative act is still a creative act. Doing something is different than doing nothing."

Check out the video below, it's well worth four minutes of your time, even if it is a passive interaction. I for one am on board with him, and I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.

(Via Geekosystem)


  1. this would be interesting to consider in the context of marshall mcluhan's theory of "hot and cool" media. he actually considered television to be a cool medium, ie. invites active participation, but the internet definitely inspires a different kind of participation/activity. i haven't actually watched the video because the sound in flash videos doesn't work on my crappy old pc for some reason, but your description reminded me of that. i wonder if he'd consider this to be an evolution beyond the kind of activity/interaction with a medium that mcluhan described, or if this theory works with the hot/cool thing at all. maybe the internet is frigid.

  2. I had to refresh myself on McLuhan's theory so I went to Wikipedia. Admittedly not the best source but it seemed to get the basic gist of it. Anyway, yeah I see what you mean, and I like the quip about the internet being frigid. Absolute zero more like, although I suppose context matters since there are so many different forms/degrees of interaction available online. That's one way in which the internet sort of exceeds McLuhan's model, because the nature of its interaction is dependent on the user. Though I'd argue the same is true of most/any medium, particularly film...

    I suspect Wikipedia was insufficient in its summation of this complex idea


    Just read this this morning, and it reminded me of this post. It was interesting review -- buys into Shirky's main thesis, but brings in a critique about how, even though he celebrates things like LOLcats as pre-political engagement, he still maintains the Geek Hierarchy in his writing -- i.e. you have to move from being a fan to being a political actor, instead of being both simultaneously, or even having your political action motivated by your fannish interests. Thought you might be interested.