Food for Thought

I tell you, lately, I’ve been trying to think of reasons to be at the computer. I’m like one of Pavlov’s drooling dogs — the computer is where my mind is most engaged — with writing stories. Still, I haven’t gotten everything done yet that I swore I would in between books, but I’m close. More on that later, first some stuff to check out:

I watched all the videos at Author Talk and they were all side-splittingly funny. You have to check them out. I’m a fan girl!!!

I also listened to Clay Shirky’s talk about the Cognitive Surplus and I have to say, once I realized what he was getting at, I was riveted. You can Read the Transcript or Watch the Video. This is a speech that suggests we’re on the brink of a massive social / cultural change as transformative as the Industrial Revolution. The choices other people are making right now about how to spend their time are transforming society. We’re pulling away from the passive consumption of TV and that pulling away will change society. I think he’s right. It’s a brilliant notion and a brilliant speech.

Here’s the money quote: Media that does not include you may not be worth sitting still for.

Think about that. Books are not as cognitively passive as, say, watching television, but they also don’t (yet?) offer the interactivity he’s getting at. Suppose Shirky is right. What does that say about where the novel might be headed and what publishers should be doing about that? I do think that fiction, and I am deliberately excluding non-fiction, offers a cognitive interactivity that’s masked (hah!) by the physical passivity of reading.

We think today we have no spare time. But in fact, watching TV masks an enormous surplus of time we didn’t have not so long ago. He’s suggesting we’re waking up from that now and some people are choosing to do things other than watch TV. Like, um, write? That’s what I’ve been doing with my Surplus Time.

Writers, by and large, are already doing something else with the cognitive surplus he’s talking about.

Speaking of which, today I nailed enough of the idea for my next historical that I’m not in a panic about what to write.

So, what did you do with your cognitive surplus today?


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2 Responses to “Food for Thought”

  1. Jill Monroe says:

    So glad you’re enjoying Author Talk. Should have a new one on Friday.

  2. Carolyn says:

    1) AuthorTalk totally rocks.

    2) ohmygawd!! Jill Monroe of AuthorTalk commented on my blog!