"Man, as creator of Culture, is like a bricoleur, ...who makes constructions for the fun of the thing out of anything that is lying around." - American Anthopologist
The world is changing. In his classic work 'The Hedgehog and the Fox', Isaiah Berlin contrasted individuals who viewed the world through a single lens and specialty (hedgehogs) with those who drew on multiple disciplines and experiences (foxes). I see this in the startup ideas I review daily in that they are often interdisciplinary in scope, incorporating not only information technology, but also frequently biotechnology or advanced manufacturing.
Increasingly, we are seeing technology bricolage, as Kevin Kelly once called it, with entrepreneurs repurposing existing technology from across the spectrum for new and novel uses. It's this recombination and remixing that I think of as the constant innovation heartbeat of civilization. We are all so intertwined with one another that we cannot avoid drawing on multiple adjacent fields in anything we do.
This is one fundamental problem I have with traditional University education. In order to draw boundaries for curriculum and scope, they had to put up walls between disciplines (who else could separate math and physics into separate buildings?). These boundaries of convenience got systemized when people started optimizing within them to the detriment of the greater innovations that are gained by intermingling them. Universities stopped being a mirror of human knowledge institutionalized, but rather speciated hedgerows.
If you go to one of these Universities today, they seldom point at the robotics building, or the graphics art building, but rather the great accomplishments coming out of the few spaces dedicated to multiple groups (i.e. The MIT Media Lab and Stanford MediaX). There are the complexity theory oases like the Santa Fe Institute, where Nobel laureates and authors and historians intermingle across the entire knowledge spectrum for the express purpose of discovering previously unknown intersections.
The Eureka, or 'Aha', effect of interdisciplinary insights lights up the brain's right hemisphere (specifically, the anterior superior temporal gyrus). The right hemisphere is where we get music, visual imagery and spatial intelligence. It makes sense that these intuitive, artistic abilities form the foundation of our interdisciplinary insights, because they eschew process, logic and math. These are not logic-driven associations, they are remixed and remastered eureka moments.
In this world today, we need more Eurekas. We need more Ahas. We have done an excellent job endlessly researching the hedgerows of the hedgehogs. You can earn your Doctor of Philosophy in any single discipline without ever leaving your university building and coming in to contact with the broader world. What we need now more than ever is to burrow some foxholes between these hedgerows, and open up opportunities for the bricoleurs who are poised to build new products and industries at the intersections between them.