The Contours of Our Times
The latest issue of Wired magazine (February 2005) has an interesting article, "Revenge of the Right Brain", that is adapted from Daniel Pink's upcoming book, "A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age." I just checked their site and while the article is not yet posted as they still have January's issue, they are normally pretty good about posting their latest edition, so if you would like to read the article, keep an eye on their site: http://www.wired.com/ (I will post it as soon as I see it is available) ------------------------ Link added on Jan 27, 2005: Revenge of the Right Brain ------------------------ Note that the actual book is not due out until March: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1573223085/ The basic argument of Pink's is that the era of left-brain domination, which brought forth the Information Age, is giving way to a new world in which right brain qualities, such as inventiveness, empathy, and meaning will govern. For example, Pink argues that by 2010, India will become the largest nation of English speakers in the world. In addition, other developing nations are minting capable knowledge workers that can crunch numbers, read charts, and write code...and do it cheaper than we can. However, this is what Pink calls "narrow" left-brain work -- reducing tasks to a set of routines, rules, and instructions. The opportunities that remain are those who can design systems, accountants who can do life planning, and bankers who know less about Excel and more about the art of the deal; in other words, artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, care-givers, big picture thinkers, etc. will transform the present Information Age into the Conceptual Age. By left-brain/right brain, Pink means that "the two hemispheres work in concert, and we enlist both sides for nearly everything we do. But the structure of our brains can help explain the contours of our times." "If the Industrial Age was built on people's backs, and the Information Age on people's left hemispheres, the Conceptional Age is being built on people's right hemispheres. We've progressed from a society of factory workers to a society of knowledge workers. And now we're progressing yet again -- to a society of creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers." -- Pink While being logic, linear, and analytical will remain important, it will no longer be enough. For example, while electric lighting is now common place, candles are a $2 billion a year business. Logic would dictate that the candle business should be dead, however, the more 'industrial" we become, the more "transcendence" we desire. For quite some time "training" has normally meant teaching someone a skill that can be immediately be used back on the job. And it worked quite well during the Industrial Age. However, as we have shifted towards the Information Age, training someone on "knowledge" did not quite seem right, so "learning" became more in vogue. Thus we had elearning, rather than etraining. And if Pink is correct and we are starting a new shift, we will still have to be able to measure and analyze; help others to learn new skills and be able to find, rearrange, and structure the information around them; but now, in addition, help them to build broader conceptional skills.