For those of us who attended NAIS 2008, I thought I'd post a discussion for collecting ideas and observations. Also, thank you to Demetri for the pizza dinner event that was a lot of fun, as well as the night walk through Times Square afterwards.
Two things in the conference that lined up well were the key notes of Ken Robinson and Daniel Pink. Both pointed to the power and neglected importance of creative thought in both learning and life, and perhaps in maintaining relevance in a changing world economy.
For more details, there were two official "bloggers" at the event with information on the sessions here:
In Daniel Pink's presentation, he referred to our times as being defined by "Affluence, Asia and Automation," and I enjoyed the chart he showed that tracked the prevalence of many "conveniences" in American homes (phones, tvs, computers) in growing percentages over the last 80 years. To compete in a world of affluence, one must either create a product we didn't know we needed (the iPod) or use design to distinguish an existing product (a Michael Graves-designed toilet brush). His point was that "right brained" thinking was essential to making a place in the new economy-- especially in the area of creative design.
As one might expect, the audience responded positively to this. My question leaving Radio City Music Hall, however, was if he was thinking far enough ahead. My parents were young teenagers in the Depression, for example. They were amused by the development of our age of affluence, but they also had suspicion that it would last. I don't think they would have thought aircraft aluminum toilet brushes were a good investment of either time or money.
It seems we're on a wave (inexpensive resources, global production and design, low labor costs), but I wonder about the time frame-- 100 years, 50 years, 20 years? Advice to students focusing on Pink's six recommendations (Design, Story, Empathy, Play, Meaning, Symphony) may be perfect for staying on the wave, but what comes after the wave?
As he noted, India has a billion people, and if only 15% become "routine workers" in the global workplace, they will exceed the US number of workers, and exceed even the entire population of Japan.
I rather like the idea of people around the world having a higher standard of living, and more interesting work (even beyond the routine that can be outsourced easily), but is it feasible for everyone to use resources at the rate that the US does?
I don't know.
Anyway, if you were at the conference, feel free to post comments about other things at NAIS 208, or your own ideas and responses to the keynote.