Monday, July 14, 2008

Desperate Housewives was the gin of our times - Web 2.0 Expo

Years ago I subscribed to an email newsletter called The Wave Report, by John Latta.
It's become one of the few I don't automatically filter off into the 'For a Rainy Day Reading' folder.

John suffers through endless technology industry shows and conventions and summarizes them succinctly, without wasting time on fluffy things like graphics or editing. It's raw reporting, commentary, and insight and it's great if you fear flying or have a CFO who fears travel expenses.

In WAVE0807 (online version not yet posted at time of writing, but that link should work when it is) he covers the Web 2.0 Expo and I'm compelled to share some tasty snippets.

On Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, both from Forrester Research:
Groundswell is a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.
A Groundswell example that comes to mind is Bookmooch, a neat little service that connects book traders in a global book swapping network. My youngest has become a rabid moocher, unloading her "Flat Stanley" collection as fast as she can and getting all sorts of new books in return.

On Clay Shirky's talk:
The issue is that TV has masked for 50 years the great surplus of human time.
In the transition from the agrarian society to the industrial society one of the most important components was gin. The pace of change was so radical that gin became the means for society to cope. It took 30 years before the institutions of industrial
revolution we recognize came into being. This happened only after society was able to cope with and assimilate the changes which happened.
In the 20th Century the social lubricant was the sitcom. This occurred with the rise of the 5 day work week and creation of the middle class. As a society we had too much free time. This was filled with TV. Desperate Housewives was gin of our times.
Only now are we starting to see cognitive excess as a plus Where do we now find time which can be used creatively by society? Now it is being placed in TV. We should ask the questions what should be done with this time? The issue is that TV has masked for 50 years the great surplus of human time. For example, Wikipedia has taken 100 million hours of human thought. TV is consuming 200 billion hours every year. This equates to 2000 Wikipedia projects a year if television watch was turned to more creative uses.

If the reference to gin as a societal pacifier during the transition through the industrial revolution intrigues you I'd recommend Craze: Gin and Debauchery in an Age of Reason

John also summarizes talks by Jonathan Schwartz, Tim O'Reilly, Art Balogh, and David Recordon on different aspects of Web 2.0.
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