“It’s an age of unprecedented, staggering technological change. Business models are being transformed, lives are being upended, vast new horizons of possibility opened up. Or something like that. These are all pretty common assertions in modern business/tech journalism and management literature.
Then there’s another view, which I heard from author Neal Stephenson in an MIT lecture hall last week. A hundred years from now, he said, we might look back on the late 20th and early 21st century and say, “It was an actively creative society. Then the Internet happened and everything got put on hold for a generation.””
“[Thiel’s] lecture points to a provocative possibility: that the competitive spirit capitalism engenders can sometimes inhibit the creativity it requires.
Think about the traits that creative people possess. Creative people don’t follow the crowds; they seek out the blank spots on the map. Creative people wander through faraway and forgotten traditions and then integrate marginal perspectives back to the mainstream. Instead of being fastest around the tracks everybody knows, creative people move adaptively through wildernesses nobody knows.”
Now think about the competitive environment that confronts the most fortunate people today and how it undermines those mind-sets.
“”Great scientists tolerate ambiguity very well,” Hamming says. “They believe the theory enough to go ahead; [but] they doubt it enough to notice the errors and faults so they can step forward and create the new replacement theory.”
This is perhaps the most important advice from among Hamming’s many suggestions. The path to excellence requires this balance between confidence and doubt, and though this balance is challenging, it’s tractable so long as your recognize what you’re facing.”
“WE expect more from technology and less from one another and seem increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship. Always-on/always-on-you devices provide three powerful fantasies: that we will always be heard; that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; and that we never have to be alone. Indeed our new devices have turned being alone into a problem that can be solved.”