From time to time we stumble across something that offers a “Eureka moment” an opportunity for insight that clears the haze, explains something in a way that makes such obvious sense, we wonder why it took so long.

Clay Shirky’s notion of “Cognitive surplus” is such a moment.

His central thesis is that we spend time, huge amounts of it, consuming various forms of media, and he concentrates on TV, but surely most magazines rate a mention, because we do not know what else to do with the surplus time, but when we wake up, and find an alternative, we embrace it, enter Wikipedia, open source software, facebook, and many more.

The wake-up is that we realise that rather than being passive receivers of stuff, we can create something ourselves using the tools of the web, and no matter how trivial it may be, it is more rewarding than sitting watching Desperate Housewives. This is a seismic shift in the way we live our lives, and our kids are going to have to deal with it, but what fun that will be, and how enriching it will be for their lives, so much better than dumbing out in front of Gilligans Island.