Illustrating the cognitive surplus

In which a choice is made

If you’ve ever wondered about the mindset of people who spend their time deeply engaged in hobbies or taking part in social projects like the Wikipedia, then you will probably find this comic strip entertaining.

My wife insists that Wondermark is not funny or is at best worth a modest chuckle. I disagree completely.

I don’t know if artist and author David Malki has read Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus, but this comic strip sure sums up what Shirky’s talking about in that book — I’m reading it right now.

In the book, Shirky talks about how mankind has traditionally spent all the free time that technology has granted us. Historically, that time has been invested in gin and television, he says.

Meanwhile, people who use their free time for constructive or engaging activities, like model building or journaling, have come to be seen as kooks, even though they are learning, creating and usually meeting people who share their passions and making new friends. All the while, the naysayers settle in on their couches and watch another episode of Gilligan’s Island.

Nowadays, though, we have a tool called “The Internet” to help likeminded people find each other and collaborate on social projects, using our cognitive surplus for something generative rather than passively consuming media that’s tossed at us.

It’s an interesting idea. More than anything, though, I thought the comic strip was worth sharing. Enjoy!