Friday, January 21, 2011

A Whole New Mind

by Daniel H. Pink
New York : Riverhead Books, 2006.

In A Whole New Mind, Pink argues that in an age of computers and outsourcing, as well as relative abundance at lost cost, what we think of as "right brain" behavior will be what gets us ahead in the business world. Specifically, Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning, will be ways in which you can gain ground in a world that no longer has to be purely logical and utilitarian, since we have more time and more money to concentrate on aesthetics. He uses left brain/right brain as a metaphor, while emphasizing that a holistic approach is important.

I first heard of this book when I was reading a professional journal talking about what librarianship was going to be like future. The author suggested reading this book to get an idea of the qualities that we would need to have to be relevant in an increasingly electronic age. I read thinking about ways in which this is true: we make connections between books, movies, mood, a particular reader (Symphony), and we definitely need Empathy to figure out what kind of information someone is looking for, or finding the right book for someone whose taste is completely different from my own. I definitely have some food for thought about my profession.

At the same time, I discovered a lot about myself while I was reading. I found that I am very logical, analytic, and detail-oriented in my approach. Unlike many people (apparently), I have an easier time remembering random facts than stories. I found that I have a tendency towards a "male" brain - that is, tending towards logic, and not as good at reading facial expressions (I kind of knew that already, but some of the exercises in the book just confirmed that for me). Also, I like the Three Stooges just fine, which apparently is also more of a male tendency. On the other hand, I connected a lot more with his chapters on Play and Meaning, and these were the two chapters that I was most intrigued by his list of activities designed to help you stretch that sense in your own mind. Unfortunately, the stories and arguments Pink uses become repetitive after awhile, especially if you're reading several chapters in one sitting. Still, his ideas provide excellent food for thought, and I've added a few more books to read as a result.

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