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.