Innovation or Emotion

J.D. Bullington, an Albuquerque columnist that I don't particularly like or agree with met with Dan Pink, author of "A Whole New Mind - Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age." Pink is the former chief speechwriter for former Vice President Al Gore and writes about employee-management relations and emerging societal trends in the workplace.

In his column, Bullington discusses Pink's thesis about where innovation is going:

His argument is that our modern U.S. economy is soon going to be driven by a new set of personal abilities and traits that have been undervalued. Pink says we are "moving from spreadsheet SATs to a world of artistry and empathy."

Pink's three core pieces of evidence are the "abundance" of goods we have individually amassed in this country, which shows our standard of living is breathtaking; the continuous "automation" of our society and "Asia." Pink correctly asserts that U.S. workers are engaged in a search for meaning and purpose in their lives and seeking transcendence, more so than ever before, which is "a result that this abundant and automated society has liberated."

Now, I haven't read this book, so I don't know where this is going, but my first reaction is to agree with this assessment. I think that we are a highly successful country--at least in terms of good. I think that the "automation" is really another way of admitting that we have entered a cyborg, or systems, era. Johndan Johnson-Eilola's "symbolic analyst" is more akin to an artist than an analyst. Much in the same way that an artist needs to get past the need for minute control to make graceful and bold moves, the symbolic analyst must get past mechanistic and atomistic notions of control to carve and shape the systems that shape our lives. An example? A blogger like DailyKos or a political player like Rush Limbaugh. As much as people may disagee with one, the other, or both, these analysts/actors use communication networks/systems to move create massive shifts.

1 comment:

johndan said...

Yeah, I'd agree--but I'd say "as much artists as analysts."

The "symbolic analyst" term was drawn from an 1990s-era Robert Reich analysis of labor and job trends. (Reich later abandoned the term in favor of something akin to "geek/shrink"--but I think that was part of his failed run for governor of MA.)

FWIW, Datacloud (the book) focuses at least as much on such people in their roles as artists (turntablists, electronic musicians) as analysts (researchers, managers, etc.), with many examples in an emerging hybrid zone (architects, for example). So I think increasingly it's about the collapse of the distinction between analytic and artistic sides (as your examples suggest).