Daniel H. Pink wrote a fascinating book, A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age (New York: Riverhead Books, 2005). I have found the work to be extremely relevant to so much of what is happening in our society today. For the next several days, I will be devoting my blog posts to discussing many of Pink’s key ideas and my perspectives on how they may relate to you and me daily. Pink describes a:
“seismic—though as yet undetected—shift now under way in much of the advanced world. We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computerlike capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathic, big-picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age.” (pp. 1–2)
I resonate with Pink’s thesis, especially because I have had the privilege of engaging in both the hard science and technology world and in the soft creative, holistic, artistic, and philosophical world. It is my contention that people who want to remain on the cutting edge of their field must maintain an awareness of both worlds. Although many have imposed immoveable boundaries between the two, much insight and appreciation arises when we can erase that boundary.
Very much related to the above, Pink talks much about classical left-brain thinking versus right-brain thinking. Some people are very gifted with their left-brain talents and thereby remain extremely proficient in technical fields. Other people are very gifted with their right-brain talents and thereby remain extremely proficient in the arts and related fields. No harm exists here because people are excelling in their areas of interest and capability.
What I love about Pink’s thesis is the challenge that we recognize the seismic shift under our feet today. I see it as a professional and societal redemption. I have seen too many folks in the left-brained arena alienate the right-brained arena, and vice versa. My contention has always been that both sides are needed and both sides bring much value to the table. The tragedy happens when one side continually excludes the other.
Science and technology alone, as massively important as they are, will never serve humanity optimally in isolation. The arts and softer sciences alone, as massively important as they are, will never serve humanity optimally in isolation. In fact, some of the most exciting projects I have ever seen are those in which we see a marvelous melding of the two worlds. That seems to be happening with increasing frequency, and it confirms the seismic shift about which Pink talks. I say, let us keep it going!