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Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Whole New Mind

I've been spending my reading (and chatting) time the past couple of weeks on A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. I think that if a cookbook gives you one recipe for your regular repertoire, it is worth the price. I think that if an idea book gives you one provocative idea that makes you consider things around you in the new way, it is worth the investment in the time it takes to read it. (See link. His other books have interesting ideas, too.)

This was a fun one. Suddenly, things which I was puzzling over just before I read it, popped into focus:

Anna magazine, about food, produced by a food stylist in Winnipeg, recipes a mere add-on
a school library full of noise and disorder, with kids who adore (fist-fight over) books
a comptroller taking over the patient-management of an old-age home

His key concepts are simple: the world has been remade by "abundance, Asia, and automation". The huge systems influence that created the Information Age has done its work. Left-brain qualities of order, sequence, and analysis are routine. Now we need to pull out our right-brain qualities of appreciation of beauty, touch, empathy and playfulness.

My favourite concept is that looking to the left engages the right-brain. Nearly all mothers cradle their babies on the left. Note to self: when the kids are driving you crazy with a difference of opinion, hug them and look at them on your left. Engage your empathy.

And my other favourite idea is that alphabet-oriented cultures, reading from left to right, engage the left-brain. The "alphabetic mind" excels at sequencing. And that reminded me of the book Proust and the Squid by MaryAnne Wolf. She writes about how MRIs show how alphabetic people learning pictograms have to stop trying to read them with the usual part of their brains, and switch to areas in the right-brain. I am convinced that I can use this information to learn Japanese when I get around to it.

Actually, my three favourite things are: looking to the left, alphabetic sequencing and a book with references that you can use. This book is filled with websites (and books and cd-roms) that I am checking out and book-marking in a "Whole New Mind" folder in my browser. For example, I have included a link here to Ambidextrous magazine: all about mixing up design disciplines.

And another favourite...I'll come in again...Among the many things I loved about this book is that I felt supported in the child-rearing big-picture we are working with in my house. Never mind planning 30 years in school for the big salary pay-off at the end. Have a lot of interests. Work the minimum to pay the bills and spend time on those interests. That's the good part of life. Yay! The future is going to value that!

The marigold asks nervously:
Can I continue to follow these ideas spontaneously, without trying to bring left-brain control into it? That's a challenge!

PS Infinite thanks to Pauline for this one.

PPS Coming soon: I know there are connections to be made to Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath and Predictable Irrationality by Dan Ariely, but I haven't read enough of either to comment.