Deploying our Cognitive Surplus

By March 15, 2010 2 Comments

Please take the time to watch this video. I can’t seem to embed it, so you have to click the link.
In the video, Clay Shirky talks about the revolution happening in social media. We used to be passive because there wasn’t much we could do in our free time other than watch television or shop. Now, because of social media and networking, we can do so much more but we can also start producing and thinking and creating collective networks of valuable information. So where do we start?

“The way you explore complex ecosystems is you just try lots and lots and lots of things, and you hope that everybody who fails fails informatively so that you can at least find a skull on a pikestaff near where you’re going.”

We haven’t yet developed that culture of experimentation, yet. We still have a crippling fear of failure, but we have to realize that this is how evolution works; with lots of mostly failed experiments, a few good ones survive and thrive. So much precious time is dissipated by idle workers and bored Kuwaitis looking to ‘waste time’ at work and at home. What if we channel that surplus time into something useful and productive?
Let’s think about some possibilities for Kuwait. A website that tracks energy use per household and rewards those that are below average with a large financial prize. People can look at the map, and see how much they’re consuming in comparison with other people in their neighborhood. They start challenging for the prizes and learn the best ways to save energy from each other. The prizes won’t be a zero-sum game (I win when you lose) but would be designed to encourage people to help each other with ideas.
People could join together and create a micro-governance task force that looks for local problems in infrastructure (badly maintained public park, potholes, stupidity in general) and have direct access to the people responsible. We must get government assurances that if the people responsible don’t act in time, they get punished. The way this works is because of the beautiful sudden transparency of the internet.
I’m sure there are lots other ideas we can think of and most of them won’t work, but the few that do will change Kuwait for the better.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • zaydoun says:

    I love your energy use idea!

  • SSD says:

    Unfortunately, we have some brainless, uncreative, populist mp’s and government officials who are planning on “rewarding” every Kuwaiti with 5000 kd (upon turning 21) for doing… nothing. Feeding more into the cycle of consumerism and unproductivity.

Leave a Reply