Are Lolcats a Sign of Human Progress?

(YouTube Link)

Clay Shirky is a tech pundit and a professor of new media at New York University. In this video, he argues that lolcats represent human progress because they are a demonstration of "cognitive surplus" -- excess time that people have to be creative. Shirky reasons that the simplistic creative act of making a lolcat is superior to any merely passive interaction with media, and is therefore progressive. Do you agree?

via Fanboy | Official Website

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Some of you need to understand that he's using lolcats as an example. It's a small part of an increasingly broad trend. He's not saying that someone who makes a lolcat is more "evolved" than someone who doesn't. However, as this creative and intellectual output becomes more common, we advance as a society.

More and more people are creating their own websites, posting youtube video projects, and updating their own blogs. The amount of untapped potential for what we do with our spare time is astounding. Sure, some blogs are about mundane daily activities, but others promote physics, art, or history. All of them are better than simply plopping oneself in front of the TV.

Think about it historically. How do we advance? If 100% of our waking hours are devoted to survival (as they once were), there's little or no room for invention, science, culture, etc. As our agricultural techniques improved, social stratification followed. Segments of the population became wealthy and no longer needed to spend the entire day working with their hands.

The sons and daughters of these rich men had ample free time (what he's calling "cognitive surplus") to create, to observe, and to ponder the nature of the universe. They were the Aristotles and Michelangelos. They drove humanity forward. That very same cognitive surplus is still at work.

You might scoff at his use of lolcats in this context, but you'd be missing the point entirely.
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I'm pretty sure that I've seen this same speech over a year ago. It was linked on Eric Nakagawa's blog at the time (the creator of ICHC). I have taken this philosophy to heart. It is better to do something rather than nothing. This philosophy has made my life actively better. This one speech actually changed my life to make me more active, and not just creating lolcats, but to make art and do things in society, such as, as weird as this may be, I participated in the first ICHC art show. It was my first gallery show and it was in San Francisco. Make fun of it all you want, but Clay Shirky makes a good point.
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Ever notice how people who measure what's creative always sound the same? Kinda like they're selling something?

We are not more creative. Lolcats are easier to track than when people do something funny or interesting while the TV is on. It was called hanging out. It's great.

Besides "Creative Surplus" is not our problem we need to work on our Obese Surplus.
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I agree, LOLCATS is/are a sign that society in general is positively progressing because they are a demonstration of “cognitive surplus” — excess time that people have to be creative.

Having a cognitive surplus can also be boring but then.. LOLCATS.. and the like
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