Where Good Ideas Come From - The Natural History of Innovation

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59.000₫
The printing press, the pencil, the flush toilet, the battery--these are all great ideas. But where do they come from? What kind of environment breeds them? What sparks the flash of brilliance? How do we generate the breakthrough technologies...
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The printing press, the pencil, the flush toilet, the battery--these are all great ideas. But where do they come from? What kind of environment breeds them? What sparks the flash of brilliance? How do we generate the breakthrough technologies that push forward our lives, our society, our culture? Steven Johnson's answers are revelatory as he identifies the seven key patterns behind genuine innovation, and traces them across time and disciplines. From Darwin and Freud to the halls of Google and Apple, Johnson investigates the innovation hubs throughout modern time and pulls out the approaches and commonalities that seem to appear at moments of originality.
 

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Johnson--writer, Web guru, and bestselling author of Everything Bad Is Good for You--delivers a sweeping look at innovation spanning nearly the whole of human history. What sparks our great ideas? Johnson breaks down the cultural, biological, and environmental fuel into seven broad "patterns," each packed with diverse, at times almost disjointed anecdotes that Johnson synthesizes into a recipe for success. A section on "slow hunches" captivates, taking readers from the FBI's work on 9/11 to Google's development of Google News. A section on error takes us through a litany of accidental innovations, including the one that eventually led to the invention of the computer. "Being right keeps you in place," Johnson reminds us. "eing wrong forces us to explore." It's eye-opening stuff--although it does require an investment from the reader. But as fans of the author's previous work know, an investment in Johnson pays off, and those who stick with the author as he meanders through an occasional intellectual digression will come away enlightened and entertained, and with something perhaps even more useful--how to recognize the conditions that could spark their own creativity and innovation. Another mind-opening work from the author of Mind Wide Open. (Oct.) (c) 
Copyright © PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
 

From Booklist

The figure of the lone genius may captivate us, but we intuit that such geniuses’ creations don’t materialize in a vacuum. Johnson supported the intuition in his biography of eighteenth-century scientist Joseph Priestly (The Invention of Air, 2009) and here explores it from different angles using sets of anecdotes from science and art that underscore some social or informational interaction by an inventor or artist. Assuring readers that he is not engaged in “intellectual tourism,” Johnson recurs to the real-world effects of individuals and organizations operating in a fertile information environment. Citing the development of the Internet and its profusion of applications such as Twitter, the author ascribes its success to “exaptation” and “stacked platforms.” By which he means that curious people used extant stuff or ideas to produce a new bricolage and did so because of their immersion in open networks. With his own lively application of stories about Darwin’s theory of atolls, the failure to thwart 9/11, and musician Miles Davis, Johnson connects with readers promoting hunches and serendipity in themselves and their organizations. --Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
 

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

208 of 215 people found the following review helpfulBy Edward Durney VINE VOICE on October 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Working as a patent attorney, sometimes a new idea that stuns me will jump out from a patent. An elegant, innovative idea that makes me wonder how anyone thought of it. Often, my next thought, though, as I understand the idea better, is how simple the idea is. So I think, why didn't I think of that?

Steven Johnson's "Natural History of Innovation" shines some light on the first question as he tells us "Where Good Ideas Come From." Johnson looks back through science history as he teases out from science history, and from natural history, seven "patterns" in which new ideas are formed. Johnson backs up with examples each of the seven groups in his taxonomy of the origins of ideas. Good examples, well told, are what make the book.

Johnson writes science history well. Like in Johnson's earlier book, The Invention of Air, the science history he writes here reads like a fascinating tale of adventure. Although a bit breathless at times, and sometimes drawing too much from too little, Johnson caught my attention early and held it all the way through this fairly long new book.

And it's not just a history of scientists and discoveries. Johnson looks too at nature - like how reefs pack together life and promote evolution - and society - like how larger cities generate exponentially more innovation than smaller towns.

On occasion, Johnson's taxonomy is a tad bit tortured. The seven patterns each get a chapter in the book. But for me, the names of the patterns and the particular examples grouped in them do not give much insight. The patterns - while interesting - seem more organizational groupings than anything else. The patterns are the skeleton. Not much flesh there. The meat in the book is in the examples.

In fact, the insight for me came from the light Johnson shines on my second question - why didn't I think of that? To broaden that question into its most compelling form, how can we, both personally and as a society, increase the number of good ideas we have in the arts, in science, in sociology and government, and in technology?

That $64,000 question Johnson does not really try to answer. He does give some clues. (One thing he says caught my interest as a patent attorney. That is, we get more good ideas by connecting them than by protecting them. In other words, the patent system may be hurting, instead of meeting, its goal of promoting innovation.)

Johnson's book is ambitious. He covers a lot of ground, from scientists to nature to arts to government to society. His idea that good ideas in all of these fields develop in the same recognizable patterns is a bold one. In a sense, he is looking for a unified theory of innovation.

Did Johnson find that unified theory? If he did, you won't find it on a particular page in this book. But by joining Johnson in exploring this question, I learned a lot and thought a lot. That made the book worthwhile for me.
 

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