>Cognitive Surplus and the Appreciators

>This month’s Wired Magazine has an article which is extremely relevant to our cause. Wired contributing editor, Daniel Pink, author of Drive, goes head to head with Clay Shirky, author of Cognitive Surplus, about the themes common between their respective works. Basically, Drive points out that traditional “carrot or stick” methods of reward and punishment are not the only motivators—in fact, they’re not even the best.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=fitmedia-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1594488843&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrPink and Shirky agree that people are more motivated by internal drives, in a word their “interests.” This is not limited to monetary gains, as a superficial capitalistic definition would suggest, but includes rewards that are priceless. It is the joy of the journey, as it were, that motivates much “extracurricular” activities such as the writing of fan fiction and the editing of Wikipedia. Indeed, the increasing number of Wikis (wikia.com) devoted to fan-created content about any number of stories and products should serve as an indication that fan fiction and open-source encyclopedias are merging already.

Shirky’s book argues that, while his generation spent much of its free time sitting in front of the television, consuming time, many members of the younger generations are using their spare time online to create things—rather than to just waste time. This is what he calls “cognitive surplus”—free thought that is not being put to use by a job, but is nonetheless being put to use for productive, rather than consumptive means.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=fitmedia-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1594202532&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrThis fits with what FITmedia is intending to do. Though they rail against television media in its current form, it is important to remember that we seek to change the purpose of the medium, thus fitting it to a more productive use. In order to do this, we must encourage and employ the cognitive surplus of fans of the medium.

This is the fourth (and most populated) lobe of the FITmedia model. Überfans make up a group I have off-and-on referred to as the Appreciators. I’ve spent a lot of time describing the other three, which likewise have names (Orchestrators, Promoters, and Developers), but have not had a platform to discuss the active role of the fans until now.

There is no better way to learn the truth about fiction, which is the very truth of human nature, I believe, than to go directly to the fans for help creating the stories they—not advertisers—want to see put into existence. The open-source community (in which I include wikipedia.org and wikia.com, among a throng of freeware programmers) creates because it is the right thing to do. They create because the world needs what they can give, and the world is a better place because of it.

When the world is a better place, opportunities flourish, freelance gigs abound, and new jobs are created. The new age we find ourselves in is one of giving before getting. If we improve ourselves, we’ll improve the world. If we improve the world, everything will be just gravy.


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"For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction."

- Kahlil Gibran

"All television is educational television. The question is: what is it teaching?"
- Nicholas Johnson, author:
"We need the media to be presenting pictures of possibility not just continuing to be prophets of doom and gloom."
- Kevin Kelly, Wired

"How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it."

- Adam Smith
"And the science is overwhelming that for creative, conceptual tasks, those if-then rewards rarely work and often do harm."
- Daniel Pink, author: Drive

"I wish we had a Problem-Solver Party because we have very big problems that need solving. And I think a lot of our attention is addressed to the wrong problems."
- David McCullough, author: 1776
"The goal shouldn't be to have a lot of people to yell at, the goal probably should be to have a lot of people who choose to listen."
- Seth Godin, author: Tribes
"The role of the media is to disseminate information, highlight important current events, and to essentially stand as a witness, an observer of cultural, political, community, and educational events. A healthy media provides a check on the government and increases the political astuteness of republican citizens."
- Stephen Palmer, The Center for Social Leadership
"Advertisers and politicians rely on a half-educated public, on people who know little outside of their own specialty, because such people are easy to deceive with so-called experts, impressive technical or sociological jargon, and an effective set of logical and psychological tricks."
- Robert Harris
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
- John Adams
"I know no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them, but to inform them by education."
- Thomas Jefferson
"Fathers and mothers have lost the idea that the highest aspiration they might have for their children is for them to be wise--as priests, prophets or philosophers are wise. Specialized competence and success are all that they can imagine."
- Allan Bloom, author: The Closing of the American Mind
"He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed."
(Proverbs 13:20)
"If you are not a thinking man, to what purpose are you a man at all."

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"I learn a lot from TV. Everytime someone turns one on, I go in the other room and read a book."
- Groucho Marx, comedian: Duck Soup
"There are two freedoms - the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where he is free to do what he ought."
- Charles Kingsley

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