Thinking vs. Sensemaking
A great change in human consciousness is today unfolding.
A new generation of world citizens have inherited a different set of assumptions and abilities resulting from their living experience in a digital world.
The digital world is completely different from what went before.
To younger people, the operating conditions of the digital are simply common-sense, or everyday reality, while for older people the digital is a new domain of structure and power that lies alongside the human.
New generations now view the opportunity and risks of a new digital construct in ways that were not so plain before.
These generations, sometimes called the Millennials or now the ‘Z Generations’, today represent nearly half of world population.
These young people engage with others via a new global digital matrix that connects each to everyone.
Younger people make these connections everywhere, the outcome of opportunities to derive information, analyse data and conduct communication at a mass scale.
Critical to this way of viewing the world is a new definition of intelligence.
A ‘creative intelligence’ that connects and opens, alongside a ‘critical intelligence’ that defines and limits.
Historically, for example, people used the term ‘thinking’ to imply a quality of intelligence that appears outdated by the digital construct.
Thinking alone is simply being overwhelmed by the new digital matrix of dynamic/complex relations.
Subjective reality — being human — is something that exists outside the digital, because the digital connects rather than separates.
In a networked world, even the notion of a single isolated reality, y/ours, is clearly reductive to the point of absurdity.
Unlike the traditional model of intelligence, this social intelligence, or ‘sensemaking’, generates greater potential to both examine the world and to change it.
The political-economy of the digital age, is no longer one of individualism fuelled by selfish desire for power and wealth, although some will continue these aberrations.
Capitalism has rewarded ‘methodological individualism’ which takes advantage of self-interest grounded in humanistic notions of individual reason, or thinking.
Leading researchers in the social sciences have already denied this outdated model of ‘thinking’ as a category of intelligence.
Simply, because it no longer serves human progress. It limits complex issues through the subjective filter of individual people and thus reduces our common ability to address them
A mass of individualism, of selfish acquisition, leads farther down the roads of mass environmental destruction and economic breakdown.
Selfish individualism is just not sustainable in the global age.
Instead, a new-old human perception and articulation is described in the notion of ‘sensemaking’.
Sensemaking implies a process of human interaction with others, which in a connected world where no individual can act or work alone, simply makes more sense.
And sensemaking identifies language, meaning and semantic reason as the location of intelligence — outside your head — to define ‘communicative agreement’ over important terms such as facts, values, actions and interactions.
For Generation Z, sensemaking is a more dynamic category of public and private interaction, avoiding the trap of ‘thinking’ that leaves individuals locked into their own consciousness, biases and unconscious impulses.
A consciousness proven by science over hundreds of years to be fatally flawed by these ‘sub-conscious’, or ‘unconscious urges’ and even despite these unforeseen biases, a consciousness prone to sensory bias.
Actually, human beings are simply organic intelligences who selectively observe and propose from their own standpoint, or position of sensory stimuli.
In argumentative terms, you do not know, you cannot know. I do not know, I cannot know.
Still, we can agree, for the present. This is the insight of sensemaking that overcomes thinking.
We are only able to agree shared reality, in the acts of communication with others that define our shared reality.
Thinkers say ‘I know’ while sense makers say ‘I want to know’.
Thinkers say, ‘This is true’ sense makers say ‘These are what we have agreed’.
Thinkers say ‘these are the facts’, sense makers say, ‘let’s acquire the data and check its accuracy’.
Thinkers say ‘I am a liberal, or a socialist’ sense makers say, ‘these are ideologies that may be outdated, what values do you hold to organise our community?’
Thinkers say, ‘the truth is that facts are incontrovertible and I know these facts’ a sensemaker says ‘ facts change, history is rewritten, science updates itself, so let’s look again and together at the facts. Then we can agree every step we take in mutual comprehension’.
Thinkers say ‘Science tells us so’, sensemakers say ‘different sciences and methods of science exist, yet all are grounded by human values. So let’s test the science and examine our human values alongside our scientific methods to assure an outcome that works for all’.
It’s only a small step to take, to distinguish ‘thinking’ and ‘sensemaking’.
Yet, it’s an important one, to move a new global-digital civilization towards a sustainable and peaceful steady-state.
It’s always your choice, make sense together or remain alone in the past?