Augmented Thinking for a Complex World--The New Convergence of Art, Technology, and Science
- Winner of the PROSE award, Engineering and Technology, 2023
360 pp., 8 x 9 in, 120 color illus., 30 b&w illus.
- Published: May 31, 2022
- Publisher: The MIT Press
Why today's complex problems demand a radically new way of thinking—one in which art, technology, and science converge.
Today's complex problems demand a radically new way of thinking—one in which art, technology, and science converge to expand our creativity and augment our insight. Creativity must be combined with the ability to execute; the innovators of the future will have to understand this balance and manage such complexities as climate change and pandemics. The place of this convergence is the Nexus. In this provocative and visually striking book, Julio Mario Ottino and Bruce Mau offer a guide for navigating the intersections of art, technology, and science.
The Nexus brings together word and image to prepare us—individuals and organizations alike—for the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century. Compelling historic examples illuminate the present, from the Renaissance, when the domains were one, to the twentieth century, with intense, collective creative outpourings from places as different as the Bauhaus and Bell Labs. Leaders must be able to grasp simplicity in complexity and complexity in simplicity—and embrace the powerful idea of complementarity, where opposing extremes coexist and our thinking expands. Innovation needs more than managing. Managers use maps; leaders develop compasses.
“Two great minds have combined to help the rest of us reimagine the future. Ottino and Mau have seamlessly fused word and image to produce a practical, inspiring, and often beautiful guide to navigating a boundaryless world. The Nexus is a spectacular book.”
Daniel H. Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author of When, Drive, and A Whole New Mind
“This is a beautiful and fascinating book. It stretched my brain and caused me to think differently about both the beauty and challenges of our world.”
Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer, SpaceX
“In The Nexus, the team of Julio Ottino and Bruce Mau show the power of bringing art, technology, and science into a collaborative whole. The text is a thoughtful analysis of how each of the different disciplines combines to produce a rich and meaningful understanding of the complex world in which we live. The book itself is autological, an embodiment of the concept it preaches, a brilliant example of why the convergence of disciplines is critical and essential to tackling the complexity of the world, where the coupling of the three different modes of thinking provides insights and creative results that are greater than the sum of its parts.”
Don Norman, design icon, author of Design of Everyday Things and Design for a Better World (2023)
"In their book, Ottino and Mau take on a big subject—how to augment your thinking by integrating art, technology, and science. It is a thought-provoking and curiosity-enhancing book—perfect for rewilding your attention with its glorious footnotes and gorgeous visuals."
Helen and Dave Edwards, hosts of the Artificiality podcast, Founders of Sonder Studio, and authors of Make Better Decisions
"Julio Ottino and Bruce Mau give us The Nexus, a must-read for those who think; those who care about how we get to and through the future; and those who enjoy learning about important new concepts and methodologies. So much of what we read rues the failures of human frailty. The Nexus helps assure that our grandchildren will rue less and revel more."
Lloyd E. Shefsky, Consultant to Fast-Growth Start-ups and Large Family Enterprises
"Don't just read The Nexus—experience it. In the tradition of groundbreaking syntheses of visual, conceptual—even poetic—works by theorists such as Marshal McLuhan and Umberto Eco, Ottino and Mau present the breadth and nuance of their vision. It's also a pragmatic, actionable book about leadership and innovation. We'll all increasingly be called upon to envision, experiment, design and create the worlds in which we desire to live—and avoid those we do not. No one can solve this equation without The Nexus convergence: Science, Technology, Art."
Robert C. Wolcott, Ph.D. Co-Founder & Chair, TWIN Global, Adjunct Professor of Innovation, University of Chicago & Northwestern University
"Great innovation can sometimes—in the hands of a Picasso, DaVinci, or Curie—seem to come out of ether like thunderbolts of ideas. Yet a secret of innovation is to understand that it is often times more of an import/export business of ideas, than raw creativity. Innovation amounts to taking things that are well-understood and taken-for-granted conventions in one field and bringing them into a new field where they are suddenly seen a innovation. This is the essence of Nexus, an understanding that a source of innovation come from connections among the seemingly disparate worlds of science, art, and technology. This book will inspire your creative vision and ability summon thunderbolts of ideas."
Brian Uzzi, Richard L. Thomas Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
"The Nexus is an astonishing tour de force. Ottino and Mau break the code on how innovation actually happens—what are the intellectual moves, how do new perspectives come together, what is the grammar of genius—in contexts from the development of technology, to the creation of art, to leadership. The book weaves together hundreds of examples from a broad landscape of fields and contexts with an intellectual maturity that reflects the authors' seasoned lives in the trenches of innovation. The book has given me a vocabulary for making sense of intuitions and ad hoc observations, and for talking with colleagues in a more precise way about how we create a culture of innovation within the university."
Annelise Riles, Executive Director, Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs