Julio Mario Ottino: The Nexus

An interview with Julio Mario Ottino about his book The Nexus.

Julio Mario Ottino: The Nexus

“How can we augment our thinking spaces to increase creative solutions? How can we make those solutions real by mastering complexity?” Julio Mario Ottino and Bruce Mau ask and answer these questions in their ambitious and visually stunning work, The Nexus.

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.

Our takeaways (not to plot bust) for being a Nexus thinker:

  1. Experiment—the world is too uncertain to spend too much energy and time overly planning and analyzing, whether it’s from data or from intuition. We have to learn to dance between data and intuition, to be in both the rational and emotional at once.
  2. Develop the art of coexistence. We are trained (and like to think) in terms of black and white, A versus B. We have to learn how to hold opposing ideas at the same time and yet be still able to act. This is hard but artists do it all the time and leaders can learn.
  3. Complex systems require us to think more and more in terms of tradeoffs. And complex systems exhibit a property called emergence, where literally behaviors we can’t predict emerge as a result of the system. The job of leaders is now to create conditions that allow for successful emergence.
  4. The best opportunity to tackle the world’s greatest problems—those of unprecedented complexity—is by working at the Nexus, where art, technology and science converge.

Ottino and Mau challenge us to think beyond the boundaries of our specialities and training, to be curious about how others in unrelated fields discover knowledge and find their creativity. It is thinking for our age, where design becomes the method for discovery.

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Thanks to Jonathan Coulton for our music

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