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Continue shopping Checkout Continue shopping. Chi ama i libri sceglie Kobo e inMondadori. Buy the eBook Price: Choose Store. The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: Knowledge workers, meet your new competition: I n recent years, few issues have generated more controversy or stoked more anxiety than outsourcing. These four programmers and their counterparts throughout I ndia, the Philippines, and China are scaring the bejeezus out of software engineers and other left-brain professionals in North America and Europe, triggering protests, boycotts, and plenty of political posturing.
Now twenty-five-year-old I ndians are doing it —just as well, if not better; just as fast, if not faster —for the wages of a Taco Bell counter jockey. Yet, their pay, while paltry by Western standards, is roughly twenty-five times what the typical I ndian earns—and affords them an upper-middle-class lifestyle with vacations and their own apartments.
The programmers I met in Mumbai are but four well-educated drops in a global tsunami. Hewlett-Packard employs several thousand software engineers in I ndia. Siemens employs three thousand computer programmers in I ndia and is moving another fifteen thousand such jobs overseas. Oracle has a five-thousand-person I ndian staff.
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And the list goes on. The only limit is your imagination. The financial news service Reuters has offshored low-level editorial jobs. L-Directed white-collar work of all sorts is migrating to other parts of the world as well. Motorola, Nortel, and I ntel operate software development centers in Russia, where Boeing has also sent a large portion of its aerospace engineering work.
Meantime, Hungarian architects are drawing basic blueprints for California design firms. And the Dutch firm Philips employs some seven hundred engineers in China, 15 a nation that is now producing nearly as many engineering graduates each year as the United States.
The main reason is money. For these battalions of international knowledge workers, this new world order is a dream. But for white- collar, left-brain workers in Europe and North America, the implications are more nightmarish. For example: One in four I T jobs will be offshored by The United Kingdom alone will lose some 25, I T jobs and upwards of 30, finance positions to I ndia and other developing nations in the next few years. By , 19 Europe will lose 1.
Much of the anxiety over this issue outstrips the reality. We are not all going to lose our jobs tomorrow. Outsourcing is overhyped in the short term. As the cost of communicating with the other side of the globe falls essentially to zero, and as developing nations continue to mint millions of extremely capable knowledge workers, the working lives of North Americans, Europeans, and Japanese people will change dramatically.
This is precisely what happened to routine mass production jobs, which moved across the oceans in the second half of the twentieth century. Automation Meet two more people. One is an iconic figure who may have been real. The other is a real human being who, perhaps to his regret, may become iconic. The first is this fellow, immortalized here on a U. As most American schoolchildren could tell you, John Henry was a steel-driving man.
Born with a hammer in his hand, he was a figure of immense strength and integrity. Alas, nobody is certain whether he was an actual person. Many historians believe he was a former slave who worked on the railroads after the Civil War, though none have been able to verify his existence.
But John Henry was no ordinary laborer. He could drive steel faster and more powerfully than any man alive, and his prowess soon became the stuff of legend. John Henry scoffed at the notion that gears and grease were any match for human muscle. So he proposed a contest —man vs. The next afternoon, the race began —the steam drill on the right, John Henry on the left.
The machine took the lead, but John Henry quickly rallied. Chunks of rocks fell as the duo bored through their tunnels. Before long, John Henry had closed in on his competitor. And in an instant before the end of the race, he surged past the steam drill and broke through the other side of the mountain first. His fellow workers cheered. But John Henry, exhausted by the superhuman effort, collapsed.
Then he died. The story spread. Now meet our second figure: Garry Kasparov is a chess grand master —the finest chess player of his generation and perhaps the greatest of all time. Kasparov won his first chess world championship in , around the same time that several research teams began developing computer programs that could play chess.
Over the next decade, Kasparov never lost a match. But in , Kasparov took on an even more powerful machine, a 1. Chess is in many ways the quintessential left-brain activity. I t leaves relatively little room for emotion —and depends heavily on memory, rational thinking, and brute calculation, two things at which computers excel.
Kasparov says that when he looks at the board, he can examine between one and three moves per second. Deep Junior is, uh, slightly more impressive. Each second, it analyzes between two and three million possible moves. Yet, Kasparov believed that human beings had other advantages that would level the sixty-four-square playing field. On Super Bowl Sunday , Kasparov strutted into the posh New York Downtown Athletic Club to begin another epic contest between man and machine—a six-game match with a million-dollar purse.
Hundreds of fans watched in person. Millions more followed the action on the I nternet. Kasparov won game one and settled for a draw in game two. Kasparov quickly took the lead. Worse, having yielded the advantage he had no hope—as he would have against a human —that his well-programmed opponent might make its own mistake and let him back in the game.
The realization paralyzed even the great Kasparov, and it haunted him for the rest of the 23 match. Human beings have much to recommend, but when it comes to chess—and increasingly other endeavors that depend heavily on rule-based logic, calculation, and sequential thinking —computers are simply better, faster, and stronger.
And that has humbled even the notoriously egomaniacal grand master. This century, new technologies are proving they can replace human left brains. But it will destroy many and reshape the rest. Any job that depends on routines—that can be reduced to a set of rules, or broken down into a set of repeatable steps—is at risk. Consider three heavily L-Directed professions: The routine functions are increasingly being turned over to 27 machines.
Where a typical human being —whether the I ndians I met or their higher-paid counterparts in the United States—can write about four hundred lines of computer code per day, Appligenics applications can do the same work in less than a 28 second.
The result: Automation is also changing the work of many doctors. Much of medical diagnosis amounts to following a series of decision trees—I s it a dry cough or a productive one? I s the T-cell count above or below a certain level? So an array of software and online programs has emerged that allow patients to answer a series of questions on their computer screens and arrive at a preliminary diagnosis without the assistance of a physician.
I n a typical year, about million people worldwide go online for 30 health and medical information and visit more than 23, medical Web sites. A similar pattern is unfolding in the legal profession. Dozens of inexpensive information and advice services are reshaping law practice.
For example, CompleteCase. But many Web sites —for instance, Lawvantage. So what happens next? What happens to us as our lives get clipped by automation and Asia—and reconfigured by abundance? I n Act I , the I ndustrial Age, massive factories and efficient assembly lines powered the economy. The lead character in this act was the mass production worker, whose cardinal traits were physical strength and personal fortitude.
Mass production faded into the background, while information and knowledge fueled the economies of the developed world. The central figure in this act was the knowledge worker, whose defining characteristic was proficiency in L-Directed Thinking. Call this act the Conceptual Age. The main characters now are the creator and the empathizer, whose distinctive ability is mastery of R-Directed Thinking.
The horizontal axis shows time. As individuals grow richer, as technologies become more powerful, and as the world grows more connected, these three forces eventually gather enough collective momentum to nudge us into a new era. Figure 3.
When economies and societies depended on factories and mass production, R-Directed Thinking was mostly irrelevant. Then as we moved to knowledge work, R-Directed Thinking came to be recognized as legitimate, though still secondary, to the preferred mode of L-Directed Thinking. Now, as North America, Western Europe, Australia, and Japan evolve once again, R-Directed Thinking is beginning to achieve social and economic parity—and, in many cases, primacy.
I n the twenty-first century, it has become the first among equals, the key to professional achievement and personal satisfaction.
But let me be clear: L-Directed Thinking remains indispensable. I n the Conceptual Age, what we need instead is a whole new mind. Can someone overseas do it cheaper? Can a computer do it faster? That is why high tech is no longer enough. As I mentioned in the I ntroduction, high concept involves the ability to create artistic and emotional beauty, to detect patterns and opportunities, to craft a satisfying narrative, and to combine seemingly unrelated ideas into a novel invention.
High concept and high touch are on the rise throughout the world economy and society. But for the most persuasive evidence, it helps to look in the most unlikely places. Take medical schools, long a bastion for those with the best grades, highest test scores, and the keenest powers of analytical thinking. Today, the curriculum at American medical schools is undergoing its greatest change in a generation. Meantime, more than fifty medical schools across the United States have incorporated spirituality into their coursework.
UCLA Medical School has established a Hospital Overnight Program, in which second-year students are admitted to the hospital overnight with fictitious ailments. The purpose of this playacting? Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia has even developed a 2 new measure of physician effectiveness—an empathy index. Japan, which rose from the ashes of World War I I thanks to its intense emphasis on L-Directed Thinking, is now reconsidering the source of its national strength.
So the country is remaking its vaunted education system to foster greater creativity, artistry, and play. Little wonder. A few years ago, GM hired a man named Robert Lutz to help turn around the ailing automaker. Bob Lutz is not exactly a touchy-feely, artsyfartsy kind of guy. He looks and acts like a marine, which he once was. He smokes cigars. He believes global warming is a myth peddled by the environmental movement.
I see us being in the art business. Art, entertainment and 4 mobile sculpture, which, coincidentally, also happens to provide transportation.
The art business. High-concept and high-touch aptitudes are moving from the periphery of our lives to the center. A master of fine arts, an MFA, is now one of the hottest credentials in a world where even General Motors is in the art business. And this broadened approach has often come at the expense of more traditional business graduates. Less than a decade later, it was down to 43 percent, because McKinsey says other disciplines are just as valuable in helping new hires perform well at the firm.
With applications climbing and ever more arts grads occupying key corporate positions, the rules have changed: The reasons for this go back to two of the forces I explained in the previous chapter.
I nvestment banks, as we learned, are hiring MBAs in I ndia to handle financial analysis.
Kearney estimates that in the next five years, U. Thus the high-concept abilities of an artist are often more valuable than the easily replicated L-Directed skills of an entry-level business graduate. What is happening to General Motors is happening to America—and what is happening to America is happening in many other countries.
I n the United States, the number of graphic designers has increased tenfold in a decade; graphic designers outnumber chemical engineers by four to one. Since , the United States has 30 percent more people earning a living as writers and 50 percent more earning a living by composing or performing music.
Some U. More Americans today work in arts, entertainment, and design than work 6 as lawyers, accountants, and auditors. A sign of these new times is a young venture in Alexandria, Virginia. High-concept work like that done by Animators at Law, a graphic design firm staffed by law graduates that prepares exhibits, videos, and visual aids to help top trial attorneys persuade juries. I ts share of the U. A similar trend toward high-concept work is afoot elsewhere in the world.
Meantime, British organizations such as the London Business School and the Yorkshire Water Company have established artist-in-residence programs. Unilever UK employs painters, poets, and comic book creators to inspire the rest of its staff. One North London football club even has its own poet in residence. But art in the traditional sense is neither the only, nor the most important, component of these emerging whole-minded aptitudes.
Go back to those I nformation Age rock stars, computer programmers. The outsourcing of routine software work is putting a new premium on software engineers with high-concept abilities. After all, before the I ndian programmers have something to fabricate, maintain, test, or upgrade, that something first must be imagined or invented.
But one item deserves special consideration. I recommend that in the center of the exhibition, enclosed in a sparkling glass case, the curators display a well-sharpened No. I f the global supply chain ever confronted a shortage of No. From the time children are able even to grasp one of these wooden writing sticks, they use them to take an endless battery of tests that purport to measure their current ability and future potential.
Later on, we measure their skill in reading and math —then plot their scores against children from the rest of the state, the country, and the world. For example, Daniel Goleman, author of the groundbreaking book Emotional I ntelligence, has examined an array of academic studies that have attempted to measure how much I Q which, like the SAT, measures pure L-Directed Thinking prowess accounts for career success.
What do you think these studies found? Grab a No. According to the latest research, I Q accounts for what portion of career success? Confining oneself only to the answers presented is a symptom of excessive L-Directed Thinking. According to Goleman, I Q can influence the profession one enters. My I Q, for instance, is way too low for a career in astrophysics. But within a profession, mastery of L-Directed Thinking matters relatively little.
For instance, research by Goleman and the Hay Group has found that within organizations, the most effective leaders were funny that is, funny ha-ha, not funny strange. These leaders had their charges laughing three times more often 9 than their managerial counterparts. But where have you seen a standardized test that measures comedic aptitude? Professor Robert Sternberg calls his test the Rainbow Project —and it certainly sounds like a lot more fun than the pressure- packed exam many of us endured as teenagers.
They must also write or narrate a story, using as their guide only a title supplied by the test givers sample title: Although still in its experimental stages, the Rainbow Project has been twice as successful as the SAT in predicting how well students perform in college.
And the SAT itself recently has been revised to include a writing component. This is especially true for high-touch abilities—that is, the capacity for compassion, care, and uplift —which are becoming a key component of many occupations in the Conceptual Age. For example, while advanced nations are exporting high-tech computer programming jobs, they are importing nurses from the Philippines and other Asian countries.
As a result of this shortage, nursing salaries are climbing 11 and the number of male registered nurses has doubled since the mids.
Pursuits devoted to meaning and transcendence, for instance, are now as mainstream as a double tall latte. I n the United States, ten million adults now engage in some form of regular meditation, double the number a decade ago. Fifteen million practice yoga, twice the number in I n other words, as individuals age, they place greater emphasis in their own lives on qualities they might have neglected in the rush to build careers and raise families: I ndeed, two researchers have argued that this fleet of empathic, meaning-seeking boomers has already started wading ashore.
S adults, a population roughly the size of France. And the attributes of this cohort echo many of the elements of an R-Directed approach to life.
They recognize that they now have more of their lives behind them than ahead of them. And such indisputable arithmetic can concentrate the mind. After decades of pursuing riches, wealth seems less alluring. For them, and for many others in this new era, meaning is the new money. How can we prepare ourselves for the Conceptual Age? On one level, the answer is straightforward.
I n a world tossed by Abundance, Asia, and Automation, in which L- Directed Thinking remains necessary but no longer sufficient, we must become proficient in R-Directed Thinking and master aptitudes that are high concept and high touch.
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But on another level, that answer is inadequate. What exactly are we supposed to do? And it is to helping you understand and master these six aptitudes that I devote the second part of this book.
Together these six high-concept, high-touch senses can help develop the whole new mind this new era demands. Someone somewhere will inevitably track down a counterpoint to rebut your point. The essence of persuasion, communication, and self-understanding has become the ability also to fashion a compelling narrative. Much of the I ndustrial and I nformation Ages required focus and specialization.
The capacity for logical thought is one of the things that makes us human. What will distinguish those who thrive will be their ability to understand what makes their fellow woman or man tick, to forge relationships, and to care for others. Not just seriousness but also PLAY. Ample evidence points to the enormous health and professional benefits of laughter, lightheartedness, games, and humor.
There is a time to be serious, of course. But too much sobriety can be bad for your career and worse for your general well-being. I n the Conceptual Age, in work and in life, we all need to play. We live in a world of breathtaking material plenty. That has freed hundreds of millions of people from day-to-day struggles and liberated us to pursue more significant desires: These six senses increasingly will guide our lives and shape our world.
Many of you no doubt welcome such a change. But to some of you, this vision might seem dreadful—a hostile takeover of normal life by a band of poseurs in black unitards who will leave behind the insufficiently arty and emotive. Fear not. The high-concept, high-touch abilities that now matter most are fundamentally human attributes.
But they were telling stories, demonstrating empathy, and designing innovations. These abilities have always comprised part of what it means to be human.
But after a few generations in the I nformation Age, these muscles have atrophied. The challenge is to work them back into shape. This collection of tools, exercises, and further reading materials will send you on your way to developing a whole new mind.
Anyone can master the six Conceptual Age senses. But those who master them first will have a huge advantage. MacKenzie was a public-spirited fellow who often visited schools to talk about his profession. I n kindergarten and first-grade classes, every kid thrust a hand in the air. I n second-grade classes, about three-fourths of the kids raised their hands, though less eagerly.
I n third grade, only a few children held up their hands. And by sixth grade, not a single hand went up. And when MacKenzie related the story himself to large audiences, people would slowly shake their heads. What a shame, they would mutter. Too bad, they would cluck. But their reaction was, at most, a lament. I n fact, they should have been outraged.
They should have raced to their local school and demanded an explanation. They should have consoled their children, confronted the principal, and ousted the school board. I t is a cautionary tale for our times. The wealth of nations and the well-being of individuals now depend on having artists in the room.
I n a world enriched by abundance but disrupted by the automation and outsourcing of white-collar work, everyone, regardless of profession, must cultivate an artistic sensibility. We may not all be Dali or Degas. But today we must all be designers.
But that is a serious misunderstanding of what design is and why it matters—especially now. John Heskett, a scholar of the subject, explains it well: Everything in your midst has been designed.
The typeface of these letters. The book you hold in your hands. The clothes that cover your body. The building that surrounds you. These things are part of your life because someone else imagined them and brought them into being. Design is a classic whole-minded aptitude. A graphic designer must whip up a brochure that is easy to read. But at its most effective, her brochure must also transmit ideas or emotions that the words themselves cannot convey. A furniture designer must craft a table that stands up properly and supports its weight utility.
But the table must also possess an aesthetic appeal that transcends functionality significance. And, as with those two thinking styles, today utility has become widespread, inexpensive, and relatively easy to achieve—which has increased the value of significance. First, thanks to rising prosperity and advancing technology, good design is now more accessible than ever, which allows more people to partake in its pleasures and become connoisseurs of what was once specialized knowledge.
Second, in an age of material abundance, design has become crucial for most modern businesses—as a means of differentiation and as a way to create new markets. I saw all three of these reasons converge one brisk February morning, half a block from I ndependence Hall in downtown Philadelphia, at a place that Gordon MacKenzie must be smiling down on from heaven.
I T'S 10 A. As soothing music is piped through the air, one student is posing on a chair that sits atop a table, while her nineteen classmates sketch her form on their large drawing pads. The scene is straight out of a tony arts academy, except for one thing: Welcome to CHAD—the Charter High School for Architecture and Design —a tuition-free Philadelphia public school that is demonstrating the power of design to expand young minds, while also puncturing the myth that design is the province of a select few.
Before they came to CHAD as ninth-graders, most of these students had never taken an art class, and one-third read and did math at a third-grade level. But now, if they follow the route of those in the senior class, 80 percent of them will go on to two- or four-year colleges—and some of them will enroll at places like the Pratt I nstitute and the Rhode I sland School of Design.
The aim was also to use design to teach core academic subjects. Students here spend minutes each day in a design studio. They take courses in architecture, industrial design, color theory, and painting. But equally important, the school marries design to math, science, English, social studies, and other subjects. For example, when they study the Roman Empire, rather than only read about the Roman water delivery process, the students build a model aqueduct.
I was the kid who was always good in art class. He interns two afternoons a week at a local architecture firm. Student art-work is on display in the lobby.
The hallways sport furniture donated by the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. And throughout the school are the works of designers such as Karim Rashid, Kate Spade, and Frank Gehry, some of which are presented in lockers CHAD students have converted into display cases. The students all wear blue button-down shirts and tan pants.
The boys also wear ties. CHAD is one of the only high schools in Philadelphia without metal detectors. Although CHAD is a pioneer, it is not the only school of its kind. Washington, D. And beyond the elementary and secondary level, design education is positively booming. I n the United Kingdom, the number of design students climbed 35 percent between and I n Asia, the sum total of design schools in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore thirty-five years ago was.
At these schools, as at CHAD, many students ultimately might not become professional designers. I f you use a Nokia cell phone, chances are good Nuovo helped design it. But as a younger man, Nuovo had a difficult time explaining his career choice to his family.
Design is something that everyone does every day. Even when our ancestors were roaming the savannah, our species has always harbored an innate desire for novelty and beauty. The rest of us might occasionally dip our toes into significance, but mostly we stayed at the utility end of the pool.
I n the last few decades, however, that has begun to change. Design has become democratized. Below are three type fonts. Match the font on the left with the correct font name on the right. A Whole New Mind 2. A Whole New Mind 3. A Whole New Mind a. Times New Roman b. Arial c. Courier New My guess, having conducted this experiment many times in the course of researching this book, is that most of you completed the task quickly and correctly.
Back then, fonts were the specialized domain of typesetters and graphic designers, something that regular folks like you and me scarcely recognized and barely understood. Today we live and work in a new habitat.
Most Westerners who can read, write, and use a computer are also literate in fonts. One of the most successful retail ventures of the last decade is Design Within Reach, a network of thirty-one studios whose mission is to bring great design to the masses. Target, a family visit to which I described in Chapter 2, has gone even further in democratizing design, often obliterating the distinction between high fashion and mass merchandise, as it has with its I saac Mizrahi clothing line.
Likewise, Michael Graves, whose cerulean toilet brush I purchased during that Target trip, now sells kits that buyers can use to construct stylish gazebos, studios, and porches. Graves, who has designed libraries, museums, and multimillion-dollar homes, is too expensive for most of us to hire to build out the family room. Attractive things work better. But how about this? And while God is bringing artists into the room, Uncle Sam is redoing the room itself. The General Services Administration, which oversees the construction of U.
Even U. I n , the U. State Department declared that it was abandoning the font it had used for years—Courier New 12—and replacing it with a new standard font that would henceforth be required in all documents: Times New Roman Companies traditionally have competed on price or quality, or some combination of the two.
But today decent quality and reasonable price have become merely table stakes in the business game—the entry ticket for being allowed into the marketplace. Once companies satisfy those requirements, they are left to compete less on functional or financial qualities and more on ineffable qualities such as whimsy, beauty, and meaning.
They need to be designers. Norio Ohga is the former chairman of the high-tech powerhouse Sony. So how can we compete? I t has to be with design. Design is the only thing that differentiates one product from another in the marketplace. Similarly, other research has shown that the stocks of companies that place a heavy emphasis on 9 design out-perform the stocks of their less design-centric counterparts by a wide margin.
Cars are a good example. As I noted in Chapter 2, the United States now has more autos than drivers—which means that the vast majority of Americans who want a car can have one. That ubiquity has brought down prices and boosted quality, leaving design as a key criterion for consumer decisions. And that eventually proved disastrous for Detroit.
I t took mavericks like Bob Lutz, whom we heard from in Chapter 3, to show that utility requires significance. Lutz famously declared that GM was in the art business—and worked to make designers the equals of engineers. We see it, of course, in those high-end kitchens with gleaming Sub-Zero refrigerators and gargantuan Viking ranges. But the phenomenon is most evident in the smaller, less expensive goods that populate the cabinets and countertops of the United States and Europe.
Or just go shopping for a toaster. Some pundits might write off these developments as mass manipulation by wily marketers or further proof that well-off Westerners are mesmerized by style over substance.
But that view misreads economic reality and human aspiration. Ponder that humble toaster. The typical person uses a toaster at most 15 minutes per day. The remaining 1, minutes of the day the toaster is on display. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that if you built a better mousetrap, the world would beat a path to your door. But in an age of abundance, nobody will come knocking unless your better mousetrap also appeals to the right side of the brain. Design has also become an essential aptitude because of the quickened metabolism of commerce.
Think about cell phones. Consumers now spend nearly as much on decorative and nonfunctional faceplates for their cell phones as they do on the phones themselves. Good design can change the world. And so, alas, can bad design. I t is what is beautiful that is useful. And while physicians and administrators might favor changing that state of affairs, they generally consider it secondary to the more pressing matters of prescribing drugs and performing surgery.
But a growing body of evidence is showing that improving the design of medical settings helps patients get better faster. Another study compared two groups of patients who suffered identical ailments. One group was treated in a dreary conventional ward of the hospital.
The other was treated in a modern, sunlit, visually appealing ward. Patients in the better- designed ward needed less pain medicine than those in the less inviting ward and were discharged on average nearly two days early. Many hospitals are now redesigning their facilities to include greater amounts of natural light, waiting rooms that provide both privacy and comfort, and an array of design features such as meditative gardens and labyrinths that physicians now realize can speed the healing process.
Similar potential exists in bringing a new design sensibility to two other settings where beauty has long taken a backseat to bureaucracy—public schools and public housing. Meanwhile, public housing, notorious for its abominable aesthetics, may be in the very early stages of a renaissance.
Constructed on an austere budget, the building has colorful stairwells, airy apartments, and a roof deck with Philippe Starck furniture—all for tenants who are low-income or formerly homeless. Design can also deliver environmental benefits.
This approach not only creates products from recycled materials but also designs the products with aneye to their eventual disposal as well as their use. Architecture is likewise going green —in part because architects and designers are understanding that in the United States, buildings generate as much pollution as autos and factories combined.
More than 18 1, buildings in the United States have applied to the U. Green Building Council to be certified as environmentally friendly. Bush won the most votes in Florida.
That election and its aftermath may seem like a bad dream today. But buried in that brouhaha was an important, and mostly ignored, lesson. Democrats alleged that the U. Supreme Court, by halting the recount of ballots, handed the election to George W.
Republicans claimed that their opponents tried to steal the election by urging voting officials to count chads— those little rectangular ballot pieces—that were not fully punched out.
But the truth is that both sides are wrong. This is the infamous butterfly ballot that voters in Palm Beach County used to mark their choice for President. I n Palm Beach County—a heavily Democratic enclave populated by tens of thousands of elderly Jewish voters—ultraconservative fringe candidate Pat Buchanan received 3, votes, three times as many votes as he did in any other county in the state. Bush carried the entire state by votes. Bad design.
A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink (ebook)
I t was bad design. The bewildering butterfly ballot confused thousands of voters and cost Gore the presidency, according to the professor who headed the project. But whatever our own partisan persuasion, we should consider the butterfly ballot the Conceptual Age equivalent of the Sputnik launch.
DESI GN I S a high-concept aptitude that is difficult to outsource or automate—and that increasingly confers a competitive advantage in business. Good design, now more accessible and affordable than ever, also offers us a chance to bring pleasure, meaning, and beauty to our lives.
But most important, cultivating a design sensibility can make our small planet a better place for us all. Had the instructions been clearer, Duval County, too, would have provided Gore the margin of victory. Keep a Design Notebook. Buy a small notebook and begin carrying it with you wherever you go. When you see great design, make a note of it. Do the same for flawed design. Be sure to include the design of experiences as well—buying a cup of coffee, taking a trip on an airplane, going to an emergency room.
Channel Your Annoyance. Choose a household item that annoys you in any way. You never know what might come of it. The above from Stefan Sagmeister, graphic design impresario. More info: Professional designers read and obsess over design magazines. So should you except for the obsess part. Reading design magazines—or just leafing through them —can sharpen your eye and inspire your mind. While hundreds of design magazines— many of which merely fetishize expensive things—fill the newsstands, these eight are on my must-read list: I also like its coverage of sustainable design.
Read it, know it, live it. I ts theology is straightforward: Here are some excerpts: Before giving birth to anything physical, ask yourself if you have created an original idea, an original concept, if there is any real value in what you disseminate. Know everything about the history of your profession and then forget it all when you design something new. Consume experiences, not things. Normal is not good. Move between the first two. Think extensively, not intensively.
Experience is the most important part of living, and the exchange of ideas and human contact is all life really is. Space and objects can encourage increased experiences or distract from our experiences. Here and now is all we got. Scour the real estate ads in search of residences likely to yield an eclectic mix of design ideas and insights. Try to determine if they appeal on an emotional level or in a physical way.
And try to articulate why. Gather at the end of the day to compare notes. And be sure to take advantage of decorator show homes and neighborhood house tours. They can provide a healthy dose of design diversity in just a few hours. The snooping approach can also work on the job. How does the physical environment make you feel?
Would you be productive and happy in this kind of setting? How do the layout, the lighting, and the furniture enhance or impede how people interact and communicate? What design elements would you incorporate into your own workplace? What I call the third industrial revolution will give people the opportunity to have a unique piece. Fine art has always found a home in museums. Several large cities now boast museums devoted to industrial, graphic, interior, and architectural design.
These museums, rich with examples and explanations, offer a great way to deepen your design sensibility. Here are ten of the best. The exhibits are always wonderful, especially those that include pieces from the National Design Triennial, which the Cooper-Hewitt hosts. Today the museum serves a dual purpose: The home that they built as a case study, and that they lived in much of their lives, is now a showcase of their work. You can view it only by appointment. But once or twice a year, Eames officials will open the house for public tours.
The center, dedicated to preserving seminal works of graphic design, serves mostly as a research facility for students and faculty of the Cooper Union. But it was also one of the first U.
I ts permanent collection —which has everything from sports cars to furniture to posters to appliances—is a required stop for your design education. Most of the exhibits highlight print design, but you can find some interesting industrial design here as well. Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice, is a gem, in no small measure because she spells out the four basics of effective graphic design: Every element should have some visual connection with another element on the page.
I f you heed her C, R, A, and P, you'll avoid printed materials that look like, uh, not very good. Find an object in your life that holds a special place in your heart —an old shirt from your college days, a perfectly butt-conforming wallet, a favorite serving spoon, a cool new watch. Place it on a table in front of you or hold it in your hand. Then explore the following questions: When you look at or use this object, what does it make you think of?
Past experiences? The skill with which you can use it? The person who made it? There will be some satisfying experience or feeling that you may be able to uncover. How does this object affect each of your five senses?
There will be a series of details or aspects of design that will trigger your senses. Think of how you have connected the sensory clues you receive from the object to the way you think and feel about it. Can you see the connections you have made? What about these objects is different? Developing the ability to consciously select designs that connect with our emotions should help us populate our lives with meaningful, satisfying objects and not just more stuff. The above from Dan Buchner, director of industrial design, Design Continuum.
Choose things in your life that will endure, that are a pleasure to use. Classic clothes never go out of style. Furniture should get better with age. Choose things because they delight you, not because they impress others.
And never let things be more important than your family, friends, and your own spirit. The above from Marney Morris, founder and president, Animatrix, and instructor in interactive design, Stanford University. Back in Chapter 2, when I was presenting the three forces nudging us into the Conceptual Age, I offered some evidence to support my arguments.
Question 1. I n the section on Asia, we learned that large amounts of white-collar work are going to places like I ndia, China, and the Philippines. According to the research I cited, how many dollars in American wages are expected to shift to these low-cost locales over the next ten years?
Question 2. I n the section on Automation, we learned that powerful software was reconfiguring, and often eliminating, the jobs of many knowledge workers in the West. Who is the John Henry of the Conceptual Age? I n Question 1, I asked you to recall a fact. I n Question 2, I asked you to remember a story. They merely demonstrate how most minds work. Stories are easier to remember —because in many ways, stories are how we remember. I t is our chief means of looking into the future, of predicting, of planning, and of explaining.
Most of our experience, our knowledge and our 1 thinking is organized as stories. Think about that loincloth-draped prehistoric guy I mentioned last chapter —the one scraping flint against a rock and becoming a designer. When evening fell and he and his buddies returned home, they probably sat around the campfire trading tales about escaping saber-toothed tigers or renovating the family cave.
He explained himself and connected to others through stories. But as important as story has been throughout humanity, and as central as it remains to how we think, in the I nformation Age it got something of a bad rap. Hollywood, Bollywood, and other entertainment centers revere story. Stories amuse; facts illuminate. Stories divert; facts reveal. Stories are for cover; facts are for real. The trouble with this view is twofold. First, as that pop quiz gave us a quick glimmer, it runs counter to how our minds actually work.
Second, in the Conceptual Age, minimizing the importance of story places you in professional and personal peril. And the rest of it was housed in proprietary databases that only deep pocketed institutions could afford and well-trained experts could access. But today facts are ubiquitous, nearly free, and available at the speed of light. I f you had wanted to find that lost-wages factoid, you probably could have typed a few words into Google, hit RETURN, and looked at what appeared on the screen a few seconds later.
But it has enormous consequences for how we work and live. What begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact. Story exists where high concept and high touch intersect. Story is high concept because it sharpens our understanding of one thing by showing it in the context of something else.
For instance, the John Henry parable helps us understand in a tightly compressed way what happened in the early stages of the I ndustrial Age. The Garry Kasparov tale then relates that story in a new context —thus conveying a complex idea in a more memorable and meaningful way than if, say, I had tortured you with a PowerPoint presentation on the automation of work. Story is high touch because stories almost always pack an emotional punch. John Henry perishes. Garry Kasparov is humbled.
To paraphrase E. Stories have the felicitous capacity of capturing exactly those elements that formal decision methods leave out.
Logic tries to generalize, to strip the decision making from the specific context, to remove it from subjective emotions. Stories capture the context, capture the emotions. Stories are important cognitive events, for they encapsulate, 2 into one compact package, information, knowledge, context, and emotion.
The ability to encapsulate, contextualize, and emotionalize has become vastly more important in the Conceptual Age. When so much routine knowledge work can be reduced to rules and farmed out to fast computers and smart L-Directed thinkers abroad, the more elusive abilities embodied by Story become more valuable. And stories—the ones we tell about ourselves, the ones we tell to ourselves—are often the vehicles we use in that pursuit. But first I need to tell you a story. One day, three visitors arrived.
The hero resisted, but to no avail. He was ousted from his land and sent off to a new world. There, adrift and alone, he floundered. But with the help of a few he met during his exile, he transformed himself and vowed to make his way back. And eventually he did return, where he was welcomed to a place he scarcely recognized, but that he still understood was home. Does that story sound familiar? I t should. There are never any new stories, he said —just the same stories retold. Departure, I nitiation, and Return.
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