The Technium

Looking For the Mouse

Clay Shirky is my favorite tech evangelist these days. I  resonate with what he says and especially how he says it. A video of a talk he did recently reverberated through the net. This week Edge transcribed it. The following snippet is the best summation of social media that I’ve heard:

I was having dinner with a group of friends about a month ago, and one of them was talking about sitting with his four-year-old daughter watching a DVD. And in the middle of the movie, apropos nothing, she jumps up off the couch and runs around behind the screen. That seems like a cute moment. Maybe she’s going back there to see if Dora is really back there or whatever. But that wasn’t what she was doing. She started rooting around in the cables. And her dad said, “What you doing?” And she stuck her head out from behind the screen and said, “Looking for the mouse.”

Here’s something four-year-olds know: A screen that ships without a mouse ships broken. Here’s something four-year-olds know: Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for. 

It’s also become my motto, when people ask me what we’re doing— from now on, that’s what I’m going to tell them: We’re looking for the mouse.

We’re going to look at every place that a reader or a listener or a viewer or a user has been locked out, has been served up passive or a fixed or a canned experience, and ask ourselves, “If we carve out a little bit of the cognitive surplus and deploy it here, could we make a good thing happen?” And I’m betting the answer is yes.

The video is here:


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