I keep saying “yes”, but want more

A Whole New Mind
A Whole New Mind (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is one of those books that, as I read it, I kept quietly saying to myself, “yes!”

At times, I felt like Pink had been inside my mind when recounting certain anecdotes, or drawing certain conclusions. So, take this review with a solid dose of confirmation bias in action.

Throughout A Whole New Mind, Dan Pink looks at, and addresses, issues of interest, dare I say passion, for creative thinkers and knowledge workers the world over. Sure, for those folks, it’s pop psych, pop sci, self-affirming stuff. But for the creative knowledge worker – those of us who rely on our minds as our most powerful tool and source of inspiration – Pink has drawn together many of the burning issues and biggest (even wicked) problems and dealt with them. He offers us as a community a number of ways to deal with our often complex and frequently misunderstood work styles, personalities and obsessions.

A Whole New Mind isn’t a cornucopia. It leaves more questions unanswered, and matters glossed over (this isn’t a negative, by the way), than it adequately deals with. But as people who work with our minds, we should deal with that, right?

If knowledge work, solving problems and uncomfortably wedging yourself into corporate life is your lot, it’s definitely worth your time and effort to read this.

Can We Teach Creative and Critical Thinking?

At the heart of teaching critical and creative thought is the ability to ask the right questions to students. In turn, they need to be able answer in a way that demonstrates their ability to see the parallels and intersections; perceive linkages between historical moments, between the period and the art, between the circumstances then and now; to comprehend the relationship between “us” and “them”, between “we” and “they,” and, ultimately, whether dichotomies like “we” and “they” are useful—and, if so, how.

The Rise of the New Groupthink

Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. And the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They’re not joiners by nature.

TED DIY

While I’m behind on the main session posts as I type this (three sessions behind now…), this is worth highlighting.

One of the unique things (and there are many) about TED@PalmSprings is the opportunity for audience members to get on stage and share their ideas worth spreading.

This morning, a bunch of us did just that. And it was AWESOME!

Welcome to TED DIY!

Aaron

  • why is a Guitar Hero instrument not a legitimate music tool?
  • imagine if

Al Myers

  • edu revolution!
  • innovate learning methods!
  • immerse!
  • mentors
  • empowered

Jim Fallon

  • UC prof
  • neuroscientist
  • history of deep research into creativity (and other areas)
  • also research into psychopathic killers why?
  • gene expression as consequence of exposure to extreme violence
  • cultures exposed to violence have potential for increased gene expression

Matthias

  • opencauses.org
  • treat donations themselves as a form of currency
  • work, innovate, create
  • representative cause credits
  • open platform
  • just 1%?
  • what couldn’t we do?

Linda

  • 23andme.com
  • difficult to teach genetics, even to doctors
  • have created a how to kit/visualisation for genome comparison

Annette Greenstein

  • evolution about mobility
  • access to location
  • change in thinking
  • what thinking do we need to do?
  • mobility solutions in underprivileged communities

Jeffrey

  • Dean of Engineering SMU
  • 1 lifetime to increase computing power 1Mx
  • power of innovation + power of imagination makes everything possible
  • from “one-off” to one billion
  • Global Open Source Home

Jenny Morel

  • Martin Jetpack

Jakob

  • ex-Navy diver
  • 27y in tech now
  • rowing across Atlantic 2nd Atlantic Trade Winds Expedition
  • 14 man crew
  • Canary Is to Barbados
  • mind over body body needs to be ready
  • gruelling selection process and training
  • lost rudder 11 days in

Seth and Jose

  • creating stock market to fund 10 large scale public artworks
  • trustart.org
  • auction after 1yr
  • proceeds split between artists and funders
  • invest social capital into social art
  • clever idea!

Sebastian Verbeke

  • storytelling
  • buffalo!
  • (buffalo)^n=English sentence
  • ambiguity
  • just let the buffalo roam

Lisa Buksbaum

  • Soaring Words
  • 250K kids and families helped

Elaine Parker

  • what skills do we need for success?
  • get kids into the kitchen to learn
  • magic as analogy for cooking
  • diabetes and obesity big issues
  • as kids think they make intelligent critical choices about food

Tony O’Driscoll

  • poem about power of TED
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TED Session 5 – Understand

Things got better for me in this session. The kickoff speaker, Nina Jablonski had what I think was the best stage presence so far. Others will disagree, but I really liked her – I’d totally study Anthropology if she was one of my professors.

Nina Jablonski

  • this month is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin‘s birth
  • Origin of Species was published 150 years ago – just one line in it about evolution
  • Darwin likely understood the nature of the spread of pigmentation in human population, but never wrote about it
  • Darwin rejected the idea that pigmentation was related to climate
  • TOMS satellite data collected that shows levels of UV exposure of surface
  • there is a fundamental direct correlation between UV exposure and skin pigmentation in cultural groups – pigmentation is an evolutionary factor
  • melanin acts as a natural sunscreen – darker=more protected
  • also protects against DNA destruction and folate breakdown
  • UVA has no ability to make Vitamin D in skin, only UVB – significant consequences for high latitude populations
  • health and social consequences
  • Vitamin D deficiency from underexposure to UVB a significant issue – measurable effects on skeletal and mental health
  • evidence for evolution is “right on your body”
  • best speaker so far

Arthur Benjamin

  • calculus is the wrong summit for high school math
  • rather, we should teach complex probability and statistics
  • everyone should know what “two standard deviations from the mean” means
  • few people use calculus daily in a meaningful way as opposed to probability
  • calculus still critical – introduce in in 1st year of college

Hans Rosling

  • retrospective on world HIV infection rates
  • recognised in 1983 and virus discovered in 1991
  • global HIV epidemic now reaching steady state – around 1% of adult population
  • 30-40M cases in the world
  • all not reached by treatment – 6% untreated in poor countries 2 years after diagnosis
  • only by stopping transmission can we further reduce infection rates
  • HIV is very different in Africa yet the West views Africa as a single whole
  • oversimplification
  • research is now breaking the perception of Africen infection rates and the source and nature of those infection
  • 4% of the globe has 50% of the infection
  • we need Heart. Money. Brain.

Louise Fresco

  • bread is a staple of human diet
  • “real” bread is about authenticity – why do we have this image?
  • most of our ancestors were close to the land – we have mythologised the past
  • processed white bread is a significant cultural marker – plenty
  • global agricultural population is now ~4% in industrialised nations
  • never before have so few been involved in producing our food
  • the “plenty state” change in the constitution of bread (adding sugar, milk, fruit, eggs) shifts it from staple to partial cause of obesity
  • mass production ->large scale -> habitat destruction
  • we need to go back to knowing what food is about – we are removed from what our bread is
  • the anti-mass production movement bases itself on false arguments and will relegate farming communties to poverty
  • rather than hyperlocal, we need to move away from long haul food to regional food
  • we need to give agricultural communities the necessary tools
  • we need to double global food production by 2020. – the demand for protein in developing nations is a driving force
  • clever, low-key mechanisation
  • more good science
  • ask your governments for integrated food policy
  • food is about cultural respect

Elizabeth Gilbert

  • lifelong love and fascination with writing
  • will it now change with the weight of expectation after Eat, Pray, Love?
  • she is afraid of not achieving more
  • some writers undone by their gifts
  • “Encourage our creative minds to live”
  • looking for models for sane management of creativity – ancient Greece and Rome
    • creativity associated with a divine spirit
    • unknowable reasons
    • daemon or a genius – divine entities of creativity
    • Dobby the House Elf
  • Renaissance changed – Man at the center of the universe
  • you could be a genius rather than have a genius – fundamental difference
  • Tom Waits – embodiment of tortured poet
    • creative process hit him while driving – “Do you not see that I’m driving”
    • no longer tormented by creative process
  • creativity as transcendent event – painful reconciliation for performers and creators
  • Ole!

Jacek Utko

  • newspapers are dying for many reasons
  • can anything save newspapers?
  • Small. Free. Local. Focussed. Views over news
  • Cirque du Soleil as model for newspaper design
  • design posters not newspapers
  • have fun through experimentation
  • treat the entire paper like a single composition akin to music
  • have the  designer responsible for the reader experience
  • circulation grows significantly – 13-35% immediately after the redesign
  • design as a part of the whole process – not just a point
  • improve the product as well – better content
  • strategy+content+design
  • design can change product, company, you – give power tto designers
  • do all your work at the highest posssible level
  • “To be good is not enough.”

Nigel Holmes

  • new update
  • million – billion – trillion sounds inncouous
  • at the scale of a smallbrochure, 1B is 1/42″ high to 1T at 20′
  • If 10T is the deficit, we need 1B ideas

Margaret Wertheim

  • the crochet hook is a powerful tool
  • crocheting a coral reef involves – people on several continents, math, craft, activism
  • 100s of models in installation – 99% of work by women
  • a response to news of damage to Great Barrier Reef
  • aesthetic and poetic dimensions of math
  • Andy Warhol Museum asked her to exhibit
  • also Chicago Cultural Center – at 3000 square feet
  • insane, crochet overdrive
  • many contributors – local people contribute their own pieces
  • organisms in corals reefs exhibit hyperbolic geometry – only way to physically model is with crochet
  • hyperbolic geometry discovered in 19th Century – only in 1997 was use of crocheta
  • also Eucldidea anspherical geometry
  • hyperbolic space
  • “feminine handicraft” defies Euclidean geomery and general relativity – sea slugs don’t care
  • lettuce also embodies hyperbolic geometry
  • The Crochet Code
  • play – kindy for grown-ups
  • we have think tanks, we need play tanks
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BarCamp Sydney #4 – Saturday, 15 November 2008

The (un)organisers of BarCamp Sydney have let me know that they are preparing for yet another festival of creativity to engage and excite the Australian tech and innovation community. Details below.

Date: 15 November 2008

Venue: UNSW Roundhouse

Time: 9:00AM-5:00PMpm (registration starts at 8:30AM)

Register: Do it yourself on the wiki

If you’ve never been to a BarCamp before, I highly recommend it. Make some time in your schedule. For those that have been before, I needn’t remind you how great BarCamp is. Take a look at my tag list below to see just how much of your life this might touch.

Hopefully, I’ll see you there. I’m not sure how my timetable is yet.