Cognitive Surplus on the Harold Lounge

I can’t believe this is the one-year anniversary of the Harold Lounge. Actually, what is more accurate is that I can’t believe how much I rely on the Lounge and, frankly, I can’t remember what it was like to not have the Lounge as a resource.

Dave is a humble guy. He doesn’t like the spotlight to be directly on him. I respect that, but I think it is important this week to recognize the trememdous effort, thought, and care that has gone into developing, and robustly maintaining this site throughout the year. Thank you PhiloDave!

I’m sure many folks have asked him the following question,
“where do you find the time?!”
It’s an interesting question and perhaps many of us have heard this question before.

Time is so valuable to all of us and the stress that we often feel comes from the perception that we never have enough time to do the things that are most important. And yet, as Clay Shirky argues, we collectively have time to work on things together, and as a group we can put that collective energy into a variety of shared projects like the goofy LOL cats (a site where you post pictures of cats or other animals and include funny captions) or the tremendously helpful Ushahidi (a kind of citizens journalist site that was originally set up to track reports of violence in Kenya through the web and cell phones).

In his TED talk,
TED talk,

Shirky describes what I like to think of as a simple equation:
Human generosity + technology = cognitive surplus
He speaks of using cognitive surplus to create change that has civic value.

In his book, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity & Generosity in a Connected Age, he talks about the difference between a passive reception of experience, like in the old days of long hours of TV watching (I believe he mentions Gilligan’s Island a few times) and the more active experiences that we have now through social media with things like Ushahidi and Wikipedia and yes, even the Harold Lounge.

We look everywhere a reader or a viewer or a patient or a citizen has been locked out of creating and sharing, or has been served up passive or canned experience, and we’re asking; if we carve out a little bit of the cognitive surplus and deploy it here, could we make a good thing happen? I’m betting the answer is yes, or could be yes, if we give one another the opportunity to participate and reward one another for trying.

Shirky (2010). Cognitive Surplus 2010 Page 213. New York, Penguin Press.

So, I’m formally saying thank you again to PhiloDave and now to the Harold Lounge Community for providing a space where we can use our cognitive surplus, and for creating a community in which we can reward each other for trying to make a good thing happen. Well done!

Website Wednesday

Website Wednesday is a regular feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

I don’t have much experience using social media in the classroom, but I was curious when I came across The Ultimate Teacher’s Guide to Social Media on the blog Edudemic, run by these folks. Coincidentally, when you open the Teacher’s Guide link and scroll down to access it in the document viewer, you can see how Issuu works, a useful tool for posting documents on Blackboard that was the subject of a Website Wednesday last semester.