"The 21st century is a really terrible time to be a control freak, . . . In the 21st century, the level of control is going to be decreased, . . ." Jared Cohen and Alec Ross in the New York Times Magazine, July 18, 2010.
I've been thinking a lot about chaos lately. Thinking about the increased level of chaos we all live with. We have seen the disintegration of nation states and the rise of failed states around the world. At the same time, the proliferation of non-governmental actors, capable of sowing tremendous destruction and disruption, has raised questions about the long-term viability of the sovereign state model that has been the norm since Bismark. Most interesting, however, is the level of "comfort" young people seem to have with this situation that sets many of us on edge.
Growing up today, one is constantly engaging in multiple discussions, through different technology, with many people. "Multi-tasking" is accepted as the norm and more time is spent interacting than contemplating. The end-result is a flat experience, devoid of the richness and depth that comes with allowing time to affect our thoughts and experience.
Creativity can be seen as the synthesis of data in a unique and inventive way. Sometimes, the creativity yields a result that resonates broadly, imbuing it with increased societal value. Sometimes the creativity yields a result that is banal and uninteresting - in which case we would hesitate to call it creativity. In either case, though, time and contemplation play a critical part.
The implication of total involvement in the immediate here-and-now is that we no longer are able to engage in the non-linear contemplation of data that happens as our mind works over time. In the end, it is our loss as we no longer will synthesize our experiences to create a unique response, diminishing the richness of our artistic and cultural life.
What is most curious for our future is how the work of young artists, engaging constantly in flat, broad, immediate interactions will differ from the work of other generations, steeped in long contemplative exploration of themes and experiences.