Even With the Sacred Printing Press, We Got Erotic Novels 150 Years Before We Got Scientific Journals.


Clay Shirky talks about cognitive surplus in this Ted talk.

Now it’s tempting to want to get the Ushahidis without the LOLcats, right, to get the serious stuff without the throwaway stuff. But media abundance never works that way. Freedom to experiment means freedom to experiment with anything. Even with the sacred printing press, we got erotic novels 150 years before we got scientific journals.

I love this quote for several reasons. First, it amuses me that he points out that the printing press and writing word are not the hollowed institutions we librarians often like to think they are.  Secondly, it’s about risk and innovation.

Many of the things we take for granted in relations to the printing press didn’t come to be until 150 years after initial attempts at invention. Imagine if someone had decided it was a waste of time, or effort or made no difference or discouraged its use.

Read the book, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age. I’ve bought it, but haven’t started it.

One thought on “Even With the Sacred Printing Press, We Got Erotic Novels 150 Years Before We Got Scientific Journals.

  1. No big revelation that chief among human interests (and library card holders) are 1) sex 2) getting rich and 3) having a laugh, or that it has been during and (way before) the printing press was created (which was a commercial enterprise, not a sacred one). YouPorn.com gets more hits than CNN.com

    But I’m confused by this guy. I get what he’s trying to say about worthy causes…yeah yeah yeah, tell us something we don’t know or support, already. Now, what problem does he have with LOLcats? Not funny or clever at all? Mediocre? Really? What, humor doesn’t have a place on the Internet? There is TOTAL and immense! civic value in LOLCats…and in laughter and silliness and in the immense viral sharing of it. People DO want and seek cute pictures of cats, no matter what he says. Hell, I look for cute pictures & videos of puppies online whenever I get down.

    At the end of the day, LOL cats is more relevant to my life — and the lives of most people on the Internet — than the blog of someone half around the world about a country’s problems I didn’t cause and can’t solve. I’m sympathetic, of course, to a point, but I have my own problems (and my own need to take a break from them with silly cats).

    Maybe he’s mad because http://icanhascheezburger.com is the 2594 most popular Internet site and he ranks 175,653 🙂


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