1. What was the media’s key theme in the 20th century?
"Media in the 20th century was run as a single event: consumption. The animating question of media in that era was, ‘If we produce more, will you consume more?’”
2. Was that wrong?
“Media is actually like a triathlon, with three different events: People like to consume, but they also like to produce — and to share."
3. What was an unforeseen consequence of the old media landscape?
"The atomization of social life in the 20th century left us so far removed from participatory culture that when it came back, we needed the phrase 'participatory culture' to describe it."
4. Is the media revolution different from other revolutions?
"All revolutions are different (which is only to say that all surprises are surprising). If a change in society were immediately easy to understand, it wouldn't be a revolution.”
5. How else is it different?
“Today, the revolution is centered on the shock of the inclusion of amateurs as producers, where we no longer need to ask for help or permission from professionals to say things in public."
6. Why is the media so important to society?
"Media is the connective tissue of society. Media is how you know about anything more than ten yards away."
7. And why is it so powerful?
"Information can now be made globally available, in an unlimited number of perfect copies, at zero marginal cost.”
8. How does that make communication easier?
“Every mode of communication that once had to rely on market pricing can now have an alternative that relies on open sharing."
9. Does knowledge play a part in the media process?
"Knowledge is the most combinable thing we humans have, but taking advantage of it requires special conditions."
10. And finally, will this media revolution get rid of all constraints?
"Throwing off old constraints won't lead us to a world of no constraints. All worlds — past, present and future — have constraints. Throwing off the old ones just creates a space for new ones to emerge."
Editor’s Note: All the quotes in this Read My Lips have been drawn from Clay Shirky’s book, “Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age” published by The Penguin Press HC on June 10, 2010.