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December 08, 2008

Whole (new) Mind: reflections upon reading Daniel Pink's book

I've just read Daniel Pink's book "A Whole New Mind" with a critical eye. When it was first released in 2005 it was well received among the arts and design communities. It has been given as evidence for the ascendance of Design thinking in Businessweek magazine.

Daniel Pink makes the pragmatic case for the whole mind approach on three conditions extant at the time of his writing: Abundance, Asia, and Automation. The current, global, economic conditions may remove Abundance as a condition. It remains to be seen if the relationship between Asia and Abundance can be sustained such that the preconditions continue to give his arguments the force of urgency.

It appears that among my peers in the arts who have read this work, there is cause for celebration in Pink's arguments. It strikes me that the celebration is premature and misguided, as it interprets aptitudes based in the arts ascendant over those that have been privileged in western culture. This is not Pink's argument at all. There is no supplanting of one set of aptitudes over the other. Rather Pink's arguments, as I interpret them, are additive. He states various times that western historical models of rational thought are no longer sufficient. His implication are that they are still necessary and that the six aptitudes with roots in creative practices that he proposes be added. His arguments foreground the heretofore unappreciated and unrewarded practices, claiming that future economic prosperity belongs to those who command both sets. His language, his sentence structures serve to foreground what is "new".

His portfolio of Play competencies is rather thin. He as focused a playful mind through humor, but has not given much help to his audience/readers in other play acts.

Pink's synthetic work is important to the P4 Games research project, focused as it is on a holistic approach. His newer work is a career guide in manga form based on his arguments in A Whole New Mind. I'll be reading that for review presently.

Design practitioners and educators have been making the business case for professional design services by providing quantitative evidence of the efficacy designed interventions. The right-brain practices have been adopting and adapting left-brain practices. These are tied to the pursuit of economic reward and prosperity. If economic reward weren't a possibility there would be less urgency to the study of the holistic approaches in the Liberal Arts tradition of study for its own sake.

Posted by SWEAT at December 8, 2008 10:00 AM