I’m just finishing up the final edits on my next book, “Get Back in the Box,” and a lot of you have been asking me what the heck it’s about. While I’m still in no state to explain it in easy bites (that usually requires a few talks or interviews about it, as well as a read through) Kris Krug insisted on interviewing me about it, so here’s a link to his site. Below, an excerpt from the very rapidly conducted email interview.
How did we get to this unique moment? What factors have made this age so special? Are you talking purely technology here?
Well, it’s a combination of things. Technology is a big part of it, sure. We’ve been using technology in basically one way since the original Renaissance: to allow for command and control. Everything from the steam engine to Ford’s assembly lines helped reinforce a mechanistic model where a manager controls machinery – or people through machinery.
Networking changed things, and allowed complexity to emerge through technology instead of simply being quelled all the time.
But other changes abound. The original Renaissance brought us perspective painting, the extended metaphor, calculus, circumnavigation of the globe, and the printing press. Our renaissance brings hypertext, chaos math, orbiting the globe, and the internet. We’re experiencing a shift in our ability to contend with dimension that is profound as the shift experienced back in the 1500’s. And the same kind of shift is happening across all the disciplines, not just technology. In fact, it’s rupturing the notion of separated disciplines, itself.
How will this Renaissance change how we understand ourselves and our place in society?
I think the “renaissance man” is obsolete. There’s only collectives. The individual – which was actually invented during the Renaissance, and then celebrated during the Enlightenment – no longer exists. At least not in isolation. The individual is defined by his or her connections. We are our connection to other people. And the failed experiments in collective action of the 20th Century give way to a much more emergent sense of group cohesion.