The main idea of this book is coming from the simple fact that we have a lot of free time on our hands and with much higher level of education of the people we have a huge surplus resource of cognitive ability. If we apply this cognitive surplus to problems that we are facing we could progress in unexpected and probably very productive ways.
Shirky touches all points that are required to make something of this surplus:
Means – Contemporary communication networks and social media that allows disseminate ideas with lightening speed
Motive – People need to belong to a group and now it is possible to do across countries and regions, providing people with similar interests opportunity to join a fitting group regarding of how small percentage of population this group represents.
Opportunity- This combination of networks, need to belong, and interests creates opportunity to combine all of this in something significant and productive such as open source software (example of Apache)
Culture – Finally culture, if seen as coordinating tool, will provide environment in which all these could factors could join together creating new method of use of cognitive surplus for production of ideas and services much more fitting for post-industrial age. The new generation would probably have difficult time even to imagine the time when people did not have so much freedom to use their time and efforts to do whatever they want to do together with other people across the globe who think likewise.