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Monday, February 21, 2005

Thinking about the future

When I was in transition between my first business, Turtle's Web and this one, SOHO It Goes, I thought about going back to school. This was around 2001 - the economy was in shambles and I, like many, was still reeling from the roller coaster ride of the dot com glory days. I decided to apply to a unique college here which would let me "roll my own" degree - a combination of experiential learning and self guided curriculuum. I already had the associates in graphic design, and figured that I could probably have 2 bachelors and an MBA experientially :)

Over six months, I wrote up the proposal for the degree I wanted and felt would serve me in my future work. It would have a communications foundation, and combine a hybrid mix of anthropology, linguistics and cognitive psychology. I believed that in order to build the computer/human interfaces of the future, one had to fully understand the evolution of human thinking, learning, storytelling, creativity and so on. I built in a healthy smattering of mythology, symbolism, and sociology into the curriculuum - all intertwined with computers and design. PHEW!

The school reviewed my proposal and came to the conclusion that they had no idea what I was talking about. In fact, none of the professors on the review board was sure exactly how I could proceed, since no one felt qualified to take me on.

Sad and disappointed, I eventually gave up the idea of further education and got back to work. But just recently, I started hearing mutterings from the web about where we're headed, after the information age settles in. Folks like Dan Pink (Free Agent Nation, A Whole New Mind, coming in March) and Rolf Jensen (author of The Dream Society) have written books about the future. In it, they say, we will have automated our industries and information to the point where what really matters are our stories and our dreams. The future commodities will be what is uniquely human - like our empathy, emotion, creativity, beauty. Things we can't automate, and can't outsource.

It's a new age world, likely to feel awkward and downright disturbing for the logical left brain thinkers amongst us. But if they are right (and I feel, intuitively that they are) it thrills me. I can't wait to get there.