[FoRK] Cognitive Heat Sink

Tom Higgins <tomhiggins at gmail.com> on Tue Apr 29 20:02:53 PDT 2008

I read this yesterday in my feeds and liked the lingo so much I(&eye)
followed it down the two clicks to get to the


"At the Web 2.0 conference, Clay Shirky gave a talk called Gin,
Television, and Social Surplus. In it, he argues that the "social
surplus" soaked up in the latter half of the 20th century by
television is now being put to better use on the internet.

    For the first time, society forced onto an enormous number of its
citizens the requirement to manage something they had never had to
manage before--free time. And what did we do with that free time?
Well, mostly we spent it watching TV. We did that for decades. We
watched I Love Lucy. We watched Gilligan's Island. We watch Malcolm in
the Middle. We watch Desperate Housewives. Desperate Housewives
essentially functioned as a kind of cognitive heat sink, dissipating
thinking that might otherwise have built up and caused society to

But maybe it's possible that the internet is a slightly more
sophisticated (or slightly more cognitive) cognitive heat sink?

OK so this got me thinking in the long back long forward sort of way
and some thoughts hit me...

For the longest time I had near zero tie in with what was current on
most tv networks that did not have the name PBS. Sure back when I was
a kid and teen I watch a ton of the tube, knew my cultural references
and all that jazz..by the late 30's though that was near nil. Now in
just under a year or so I have found myself watching a regular slate
of shows from various networks and many of them 100% legitly.  Why?

The transport. In short and to tie it into Clay's meme I quaffed
heartily when that was the easy to grab choice of diversion and moved
on to other things as my lifestyle took me away from such outlets. Now
the booze cart has come to my outlet of choice and once again am
spending my time slices watching The Riches, Hells Kitchen (yea yea
totally guilty pleasure), Good Eats, BSG, Mythbusters and a few
more.....(not to mention my recent week long engorgement of Sliders).

The main culprit is now Hulu which has made it such that I have now
subscribed to various show's rss feeds such that I see them along with
all the other items that greet me in greader. The other one is tvrss
feeds I have placed in miro.

All this got me thinking, so what else has this brave new world
brought to me that in various ways uses up my time slices?

I looked at my twitter feed, which I get piped into my gmail tab. Yea,
there are two folks who are twitting about what is being consumed for
breakfast, what shirt they are wearing, what they are listening to
right now..no now....oi. The S/N does indeed have a lot to do with who
you follw, so right off the bat i have parsed down the followings by
just 2 and it has made a few mins difference a day.

IRC. For me IRC has been a river of communication for well over 15
years, and of that one channel has been a near constant (#mindvox on
efnet) It is , irc works for me both in the associative and the
disassociative ways I like. One of the annoyances I have with
twitter(some may find this a pro though) is getting responses to msgs
I did not see, thus it is akin to hearing half a phone
conversation..which while that may prove a fertile ground for musings
what is being said on the other end winds up usualy turning me
off....and thus one follow was deaded for such.

What am I rambling about here? Holy grails most likely, new ways to be
interconnected without getting tangled up in blue..or cognative heat
sinks as the Clay piece states.

Flux, oh yeah..so while I love me the irc and will for as long as
there are enough people there to keep things interesting new ways are
always sprouting up and dieing off...or spreading like
blackberries....which reminds me  why my wife is not happy I am not
out in the garden right now.

OK so IM, interconnectedness, BurkianML and whats next...talk amongst
yourselves while I go once more into the breech.

-tom(no rest for the stay at home)higgins

More information about the FoRK mailing list