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Right-Brainers on The Rise

15 January 2009

I'll admit that I'm a bit of a magazine junkie. I subscribe to a few... well, truth be told, a few more than "a few", and others I buy now and then. Although come Christmas I find myself buying a lot more. I love Christmas and I just have to check out what's going on in lots of mags. And that's how I came to buy O, Oprah's magazine, in December.

In it Oprah interviews Daniel Pink about his book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. It sounds really interesting and I wanted to share this with you. Daniel Pink puts forward the theory that we are entering the 'conceptual age', a new era in which there will be a shift in the skills that will be most valued by society. He says that creative thinkers will be more crucial and valued than the traditionally valued left-brainers. Left-brained skills like accounting, engineering and computer programming can be, and are, outsourced overseas, whereas creativity, 'storytelling', inventiveness and empathy are transformative skills that can never be outsourced.

Daniel: "Software is replacing our left brains by doing sequential, logical work. In Asia you have tens of millions of people who can do routine tasks like write computer code. Routine is work you can reduce to a spreadsheet, to a script, to a formula, to a series of steps that has a right answer."
Oprah: "So you suggest that right-brain aptitudes, when combined with left-directed thinking, can result in a whole new mind. Because we've entered a conceptual age, where meaning and harmony, design and purpose are going to be more significant to the world than formulaic thinking and activities."

Stunning ephemeral painting by Eric Blum.
(found via dear ada)

Daniel goes on to say: "In a world of abundance, our new job is to give people something that they didn't know they were missing. What do artists do? Artists give people give people something that they didn't know they were missing: a dance, a piece of music, a painting, a piece of sculpture. Catering to that need is the best business strategy."

According to the author, other important right-brain skills are:
Storytelling - "The ability to put facts into a context and deliver them with emotional impact."
Symphony - "The ability to see the big picture, connect the dots, combine disparate things into something new."
Empathy - "Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place."
Meaning - "The widespread search for meaning is one of the most important things going on in American life today."

This in particular is something that I truly believe: "Everything begins with a conversation. Those assembling the conversation are the ones that shape our experiences. One conversation turns into another and another and another. That contagious conversation is what changes the world."

I love those 'conversations' that have resulted in: the rise of indie crafting; the widespread resurgence of creativity and the new value placed upon it; the popularity of organic, homemade, and eco-friendly. The blogosphere is a 'contagious conversation', a groundswell of single voices forming an international dialogue. That's why I love it so.

I have noticed the shift in the value placed on right-brain thinking occurring. Do you think it will continue to the extent Daniel Pink predicts? Have you read his book? Any thoughts on this topic that you'd care to share?