Cory Doctorow on Clay Shirky’s new book:

Shirky is very good on the connection between trivial entertainments and serious business, from writing web-servers to changing government. Lolcats aren’t particularly virtuous examples of generosity and sharing, but they are a kind of gateway drug between zero participation and some participation. The difference between “zero” and “some” being the greatest one there is, it is possible and even likely that lolcatters will go on, some day, to do something of more note together.

Can someone explain to me how the third sentence there follows from the previous two?


  1. How about if we remove "likely" and just stick with "possible" and replace "will" with "might"?

    Kind reading is that if participation is not in and of itself a sufficient condition, it is a necessary condition; and that Lolcats et al helps to move people from passive reception of cultural artifacts created by others to participation in the creation of cultural artifacts.

  2. "Something of more note" than a LOLcat is a pretty low bar. I'd bet $5 that most people who make a LOLcat will someday make something of more note than a LOLcat.

  3. What if we rewrite the first clause of (3) thus: "Even if the difference between "zero" and "some" is the greatest one there is,…"? That's a little better, I think. It might be that (3) is not supposed to follow from (1) & (2) after the manner of an argument; (3) might rather be an assertion made on the occasion of (1) & (2).

Comments are closed.