Brickfair, An Example of Cognitive Surplus

News Cameras Very Interested

Over the weekend, I accompanied my son to Brickfair 2010 at the Dulles Expo Center. Brickfair is a completely fan-driven annual conference. People come together to share their love of Legos, to show of scenes and models they have built, and to swap bricks.

Daniel and his friend Jeremy had created a rock concert model, a show by a fictitious band called The Sharks. It was complete with a crowd surfer, light show, and a sound booth. I was proud to see it gathering lots of interest and some news cameras too.

The whole thing fascinated me, so I made this video while I was there:

As I mention in the video, Brickfair puts me in mind of Clay Shirky’s idea of cognitive surplus. It’s not exactly the same thing, but the basic thrust is similar.

More fundamentally, though, Brickfair (and the huge number of other fan-driven conferences across a variety of interests) are testament to the idea that people like to make and share. The Internet has made it easier to organize situations where people can get together and do that — and do it while they don’t happen to be together, too.

Here’s a closer shot of The Sharks:

The Sharks in concert! (Click for full size.)

Published by

Brad Rourke

Executive editor of issue guides and program officer at the Kettering Foundation.

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