Monday, October 22, 2007

The conceptual age is here - eightbar is living proof

Up until the other week I used a term called web 2 thinking, or open source thinking to try and engender the change in attitude that we are seeing and the cultural shift in both working practices, organization and attitude.

Since hearing our very own Sandy Kearney speak at VW 07 I now have picked up on a much better word and idea. The Conceptual Age. This piece of thinking seems to fit right in with both what is happening, what I see might happen in the future and, looking back, some of the personal experiences and changes I have felt.

Personally I think I groked conceptual age withing a few seconds, as it mapped to so many things. However I will try and explain it in very quick friday terms.

We have moved from agriculture, to industrial and then to information ages. In each step it had required a change in what is considered normal, in the tools and techniques required to deal with that change. Business and social changes have been massive.

The information age is identifiable by the massive use of compute power, of logical, left brain thinking. Gather, analyze, mechanize etc. This however has not proved enough for us as humans. We have had to find and build on this to get a creative outlet, to spend time cultivating relationships and to having to come to understand good design. We have been in a transition to this conceptual age, where design and creativity matter as much as logic and information. The web started it really, combined with 'designer' products and the need for people to augment their experiences in real life with brands.

Now we are seeing this as the differentiator for business. We talk about innovation that matters, and indeed we do it. That is not about cranking out code, that is not about the digital equivalent of a factory line. That is about people, about empathy and about appealing to the higher order of things in peoples lives than just pure money.

Idealistic? yes. thats the point.

I realized a good few years ago that whilst I was a programmer my love of creating code was not the logic and order, but the creativity and gut feel that can be applied. Once I realized that i was able to let go of the pure logic, not try and be spock. I learned that sometimes I coudl be Left brain, but I tended to be right brain as well and see all sorts of other patterns.

Its these patterns, threads etc that I saw, felt, touched with the whole metaverse/secondlife/virtual worlds buzz. It was these that worked in my head. A mixture of logic AND gut feel.

All this sort of thing is described in this book, which of course I have not read all of !



So, in all this metaverse work we have been saying its about people, its about community, its not about command control structures. Its about reaching people, letting go, creativity etc. It all fits so well.

It does not mean solely right brain wacky creativity, nor solely left brain nuts and bolts. It does mean that we have to think about things in a different way, use our full human make up to get things done.

It struck me that the entire measurement culture, target based approach is still very information age. To a hard nosed pure left brain attitude that is clearly the only way forward, logic dictates if you set this target and make it then things will be great. Well..... I dont think so.

Whilst we have all been asked to think out of the box, the box has gone and moved.

I can see this concept of the conceptual age (see a nice self reference) will be winding its way into my vocabulary and presentations. I will write some more, and give more anecdotal stories, but the story of eightbar does appear to be the power of the conceptual age come to life.



Witness142 said...

Hi Ian

Per your invitation to comment. I think this "conceptual age" idea is froth. History seems to suggest that, in various ages, various ideas get dominance. So we passed through an age of philosophy (with the Greeks) to an age of engineering (with the Romans) through an age of religion in the Dark and Middle Ages, through the Renaissance and into the "Age of Enlightenment".
From that time, in Europe and its grown up colonies, we have been in an intellectual age. This is not changing.
Within these ages you get minor swings between intellectual and artistic and physical pursuits. The current trend towards gaming began decades ago.
Gaming activity is, primarily, play . In an environment focused on productivity, gaming is inefficient behaviour. In an environment focused on "exploration" gaming is optimal.

epredator said...

I think this is less about play and more about the acceptance of design not just function. yes it is shown illustrated in a gaming, but we have moved from pure information.
Call it understanding (as they did on the BBC 4 programme visions of the future
Or we need to talk about making ourselves like the internet as we are in the networked age as seen here
The point is the world has shifted and the potential has shifted. We are not just in a mode of reading content and web pages. It is a fundamental social change to have people contributing globally.