Distributed Imagination

I want to start this post by explaining why yesterday's post was so, well, abbreviated. When I returned to blogging this week, I made a commitment that I would post 60 entries in 60 days. I really want to make it a habit to provide you with a daily summary of what I'm learning in this new venture.

The problem is, I'm still getting the hang of coming up with material on a daily basis. Looking back on yesterday, I see that I would be better off firing off a quick thought that I had, rather than trying to analyze an article when I don't have the time to do it justice. With that in mind, I will try to handle those situations better in the future.

So, with that out of the way, I would like to get back to the paper by John Seely Brown.

Rather than summarize it, I would like to single out one concept that I found to be extremely thought provoking. That would be the concept of a "network of imagination". This relates to what Brown sees as the importance of play, and world creating in particular.
"World building unleashes human potential through imagination. It allows us to dream of something that doesn’t yet exist and construct the context and content around it so that it could be."
This is fascinating to me, because it touches on what I believe is one of humanity's greatest failures today--a failure of imagination. We lean so heavily on mass media for our collective imagination, that we seldom stop to ask whether or not this imagination is serving us well. The world that our collective imagination seems to be building at this point is one of fear. Whether it's fear of our future, fear of nature, or fear of those living among us, we begin to base our decisions on these fears, and we are building a world that is unsustainable. At some point, we will make what we imagine real, confirming what we feared all along.

This is a far cry from what could positively be imagined. I think of the world that Gene Roddenberry built in his conception of Star Trek. The future he ultimately imagined was one of peace and cooperation. Some of the physical things he imagined have become reality in our day and age: cell phones, mobile computing devices, blue tooth headsets....

We need to get back to positively imagining our future and the solutions to the great problems that face us. There are many people working on these problems with a positive future in mind, but that needs to extend to the culture at large. I think that one of the great tasks of science fiction is this imagining.

Brown speaks of "Networks of Imagination" and he imagines these networks rising from collective action. I think that these networks have to work hand in hand with Globally Distributed Problem Solving Communities. There is a place for everyone; problem visualizers, problem solvers, data gatherers, those who can reframe problems in new contexts, people who can provide nudges from seemingly unrelated fields, and people who can imagine how problems and solutions could play out in the future.

We don't just need experts. We need everyone.


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