Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Got a Few Minutes to Spare?

When you have a few spare minutes, do you turn on the television or turn to your computer?

Studies show that the time Americans once spent watching television has been redirected toward activities that are less about consuming and more about engaging - from Facebook and other forms of social networking to powerful forms of political action. And these efforts aren't fueled by external rewards but by intrinsic motivation - the joy of doing something for its own sake.

Authors Daniel Pink and Clay Shirky were recently interviewed in Wired magazine about the revolution in how we use our free time. The full interview is here, but some key points include:
  • Free time used to be something to be used up rather than used. With increased suburbanization and long commutes, there was less face-to-face interaction. Most people spent the bulk of their free time watching television.
  • Post-TV media - blogs, wikis, and Twitter - is now being tapped for other, often more valuable uses.
  • Television is a solitary activity that crowded out other forms of social connection. The very nature of new technologies fosters social connections.
  • Our intrinsic motivation - doing something that is interesting, engaging, the right thing to do, or something that contributes to the world - is a powerful motivator.
  • The possibilities of organizations tapping into this "free" time - what Shirky calls "cognitive surplus" - is staggering.
What about your "free" time? How do you use it? Is there a place in your organization for connecting this cognitive surplus for the good of others?

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