No, not the U2's Edge...the Edge is a group of free-range intellectuals - scientists, technologists, authors..and once a year - like American football Pro Bowl or maybe more like the Running of the Bulls, we get to watch these brain-powered jocks strut their stuff - returning mental kickoffs 102 yards and doing an end zone dance of Oppenheimer-like proportions. Its awesome stuff really - thought-provoking, challenging (sometimes just in terms of trying to master the vocabulary) but I like it because it forces us to push outside our normal bounds of how we think about things.
The occasion for all this is the annual Question that the Edge asks its members to answer. Some of the past questions include "What was the most important invention in the past 2,000 years and why?" also "What now?" ....one of my favorites was "what is your law?"
The 2011 Questions is now out and its a good one: "WHAT SCIENTIFIC CONCEPT WOULD IMPROVE EVERYBODY'S COGNITIVE TOOLKIT?" Nice one right? I love this explanantion of a cognitive chunk:
"James Flynn has defined "shorthand abstractions" (or "SHA's") as concepts drawn from science that have become part of the language and make people smarter by providing widely applicable templates ("market", "placebo", "random sample," "naturalistic fallacy," are a few of his examples). His idea is that the abstraction is available as a single cognitive chunk which can be used as an element in thinking and debate."
Now look, there are a 164 responses to this question from some very impressive minds so don't rush over there thinking you're just going to gobble all this down. Take your time. Read one. Digest it. Roll it around in your head. Find your favorites. I like Don Tapscott's line about "Why don't schools and universities teach design thinking for thinking?" How about Roger Schank's admonition that "Some scientific concepts have been so ruined by our education system that it is necessary to explain about the ones that everyone thinks they know about when they really don't."
The point is that you could spend days here and maybe we should. I look at something like the Edge's Annual Question not so much as a compendium of finished thoughts but as a rich storehouse of seeds for future thought..brilliantly constructed seeds maybe even genetically modified ones but seeds nonetheless that maybe we can bring back to our particular professional pastures, plant, care for and see what grows. Enjoy.