Monday, December 31, 2007

Reading :: A Whole New Mind

A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age
By Daniel Pink

In this book on the rising importance of conceptual work, Daniel Pink passionately argues that we have overemphasized left-brain thinking (sequence and details; text; science, mathematics, logic) over right-brain thinking (simultaneity; context; synthesis; the arts). And Pink models this sort of thinking as well, perhaps to his detriment. Pink strikes me as one of those exceptionally bright people who nevertheless emphasize breadth over depth, skimming over details and hastily synthesizing a big picture with an easy-to-grasp dichotomy (right vs. left, text vs. context, logic vs. creativity). It's this rush to develop a big picture that really damages the book: Pink uses headlines from a number of fields and personal anecdotes from his own drawing classes as evidence for this rapidly developing big picture, but fails to notice or try to reconcile opposing views or the subtle differences among the experts he cites.

Scott Berkun recently read this book as well -- the later paperback version, not the hardback that I read -- and posted his devastating review. I won't repeat that work here, but I will add that very bright people tend to be susceptible to grand unifying explanations such as this one. It takes some patience to be skeptical and to sound out the disagreements and incoherences among your sources when you think you see a big picture emerging, and often the impulse is to sweep those disagreements under the rug. Unfortunately, Pink was not able to summon this patience. Fortunately, someone -- probably the editor -- blunted the book's obvious conclusion by inserting hedges: rather than baldly stating that right-brain activities will be ascendant in the new economy, the book usually states that both halves of the brain will be equally important and that sequence, logic, and details will continue to have a place.

1 comment:

Jari Chevalier said...

Just want to let you know that Dan Pink will be my guest on Living Hero towards the end of February. Just enter your email in the subscription box on to receive an email when the Podcast is broadcast. I’m writing to you and others in advance to give you a chance to participate in the formation of the interview questions. Just type your question into the question box widget on the right column of the page. Also, to see recent blog posts, just click into the recent posts question in the right side column. Once the Podcast is posted, comments can be added at the bottom of the podcast post. I look forward to a highly generative ongoing conversation and I do hope you’ll be part of it! Please spread the word! My very best, Jari Chevalier