The title comes from "Gin, Television, and Social Surplus" by Clay Shirky. Somebody asked him "where do people find the time?" to create something like Wikipedia. Wikipedia -- the whole thing, articles and edits and talk pages and translations -- represents some 100 million hours of human thought. TV watching, in the US alone, amounts to some 200 billion hours every year. That's 2,000 Wikipedia projects every year.

Shirky points out that, in the years spanned by the Industrial Revolution, "The transformation from rural to urban life was so sudden, and so wrenching, that the only thing society could do to manage was to drink itself into a stupor for a generation." Gin, and more gin. "And it wasn't until society woke up from that collective bender that we actually started to get the institutional structures that we associate with the industrial revolution today."

The equivalent, in the latter half of the 20th Century, was television. Society is only now waking up from that collective bender. What are you doing with your free time?

I'm not watching TV much these days. Nor movies. Nor listening to radio, even during my commute. Nor even reading books and magazines. I am still drugging myself -- I'm a product of my generation, not yet completely adapted to life in the 21st Century -- but my drug of choice these days is mostly LJ. A decade ago it was Usenet. At least my current drugs are interactive.

Sometimes, my current drugs create things that last. Some of my LJ content finds its way onto my website; my songs and essays are already there. I'm working on it. I came out with a CD over the course of two or three years in, basically, the time I saved by not watching TV. I ought to try not reading LJ so much.

(First brought to my attention in this post by ; recently seen on techdirt as well.)