Do you have any idea which age we are in?
Last time I checked we were in the information age.
Now, I am told, we are living in Imagination Age.
The Imagination Age is a period beyond the Information Age where creativity and imagination are the primary creators of economic value. This contrasts with the information age where analysis and thinking were the main activities.
Charlie Magee who first introduced the term in 1993 in an essay, “The Age of Imagination: Coming Soon the Civilization Near You,” proposes that the best way to assess the evolution of human civilization is through the lens of communication.
Throughout human history the most successful groups, whether they are tribes, kingdoms, corporations or nations, are the ones where larger percentage of people have access to higher quality of information, a greater ability to transform that information into knowledge into action and more freedom to communicate that new knowledge to the other members of their group.
The rise of the immersive virtual reality, the cyberspace or the metaverse will further raise the value of imagination work of designers, artists, video makers and actors over rational thinking as a foundation of culture and economics.
Jobs in publishing are declining while jobs for designers, architects, actors & directors, software engineers and photographers are all growing. This shift in job creation is a sign the beginning of the Imagination Age.
Cox argues that the skills can be viewed as a “hierarchy of human talents”, with raw physical effort as the lowest form of value creation, above this skilled labor and information entry to creative reasoning and emotional intelligence.
Each layer provides more value creation than the skills below it, and the outcome of globalization and automation is that labor is made available for higher level skills that create more value.
Presently these skills tend to be around imagination, social and emotional intelligence.
Rita J. King, a n artist, writer and cultural philosopher used the term in her November 2007 essay for the British Council, “The Emergence of a New Global Culture in the Imagination Age.”
“Rather than exist as an unwitting victim of circumstance, all too often unaware of the impact of having been born in a certain place at a certain time, to parents firmly nestled within particular values and socioeconomic brackets, millions of people are creating new virtual identities and meaningful relationships with others who would have remained strangers, each isolated within their respective realities.”
King further refined the development of her thinking in a 2008 essay entitled, “Our Vision for Sustainable Culture in the Imagination Age” in which she states,
“Active participants in the Imagination Age are becoming cultural ambassadors by introducing virtual strangers to unfamiliar customs, costumes, traditions, rituals and beliefs, which humanizes foreign cultures, contributes to a sense of belonging to one’s own culture and fosters an interdependent perspective on sharing the riches of all systems.”
Her blog “The Imagination Age” is worth checking.
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels