Here Comes Clay Shirky

One of the digital age’s great thinkers talks to PW about his new book, Cognitive Surplus, web “values,” and the changing world of publishing.

By Parul Sehgal, Publishers Weekly, 6/21/2010

Fall the talk of disruptive technology in the publishing and media worlds, it isn’t easy to be an optimist these days. But it’s hard not to notice that Clay Shirky, one of the digital age’s most original, engaged thinkers, is remarkably sanguine about the prospects of new media—especially for a man so immersed in discussing its problems.

In 2008 Shirky’s book, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations, was one of the first to predict the power of social media, lauding the power and potential of a collaborative digital space, from crowdsourcing to the kind of sharing now popularized by Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. This month, he’s back with a new book, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age (Penguin Press), an equally prescient book that extols the possibilities of the Internet age and outlines the social obligations that come with it, beyond tweeting, or posting pithy status updates.

“How we put our collective talents to work is a social issue,” Shirky writes, “not solely a personal one.”

Continue reading