whiplash (intro)

I just finished reading Whiplash by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe. I loved it… it’s especially pertinent to the technological change in my industry and the role I hope to play in it. Here are my notes from the intro. More to come.

The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed.

William Gibson

Technology has exceeded our capacity, as individuals and as a society, to understand it. This book offers the operating guidelines for survival in the future.

Change doesn’t care if you’re ready for it. Change outpaced humans sometime late in the last century. These are exponential times.

This new era is defined by three traits:

Asymmetry – “The biggest threats to the status quo come from the smallest of places, from start-ups and rogues, breakaways and indie labs.”

Complexity – The quantity, or level, of complexity is influenced by four inputs: heterogeneity, a network, interdependency, and adaption. “We’ve cranked the volume on all these knobs to 11 in recent years.”

Uncertainty“What comes next? No one knows (and) not knowing is okay. In fact, we’ve entered an age where the admission of ignorance offers strategic advantages over expending resources toward the increasingly futile goal of forecasting future events.”

Our paradigms, or prevailing systems of thought, make us susceptible to misinterpret the technological future and get left behind.

Our book proceeds from the conviction that any given period of human development is characterized by a set of commonly held systems of assumptions and beliefs. We’re not talking about opinions or ideologies. Beneath these lie another set of ideas, the assumptions that are unconscious, or more accurately, preconscious, in nature: Strength > weakness; knowledge > ignorance; individual talent > difference. (This) framework of joists, studs, and beams that support all your conscious ideas. In other words this isn’t a book about what you know; it’s a book about what you don’t know, and why it’s important to question these problematic assumptions.

We need to catch up to the recent acceleration of change. This book offers the core principles of the MIT Media Lab that have allowed it to ride this wave. The principles overlap and complement each other. None of them are more important than the others, but they all branch from one that isn’t listed:

Learning > Education.

Learning is something you do for yourself. Education is something done to you.

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