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Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovationby Steven Johnson
Synopses & Reviews
One of our most innovative, popular thinkers takes on-in exhilarating style-one of our key questions: Where do good ideas come from?
With Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson pairs the insight of his bestselling Everything Bad Is Good for You and the dazzling erudition of The Ghost Map and The Invention of Air to address an urgent and universal question: What sparks the flash of brilliance? How does groundbreaking innovation happen? Answering in his infectious, culturally omnivorous style, using his fluency in fields from neurobiology to popular culture, Johnson provides the complete, exciting, and encouraging story of how we generate the ideas that push our careers, our lives, our society, and our culture forward.
Beginning with Charles Darwin's first encounter with the teeming ecosystem of the coral reef and drawing connections to the intellectual hyperproductivity of modern megacities and to the instant success of YouTube, Johnson shows us that the question we need to ask is, What kind of environment fosters the development of good ideas? His answers are never less than revelatory, convincing, and inspiring as Johnson identifies the seven key principles to the genesis of such ideas, and traces them across time and disciplines.
Most exhilarating is Johnson's conclusion that with today's tools and environment, radical innovation is extraordinarily accessible to those who know how to cultivate it. Where Good Ideas Come From is essential reading for anyone who wants to know how to come up with tomorrow's great ideas.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"[A] rich, integrated and often sparkling book. Mr. Johnson, who knows a thing or two about the history of science, is a first-rate storyteller." The New York Times
"A vision of innovation and ideas that is resolutely social, dynamic and material....Fluidly written, entertaining and smart without being arcane." Los Angeles Times
"A magical mystery tour of the history and architecture of innovation." The Oregonian
"A rapid-fire tour of 'spaces' large, small, mental, physical, and otherwise...Where Good Ideas Come From may be the ultimate distillation of his thinking on these issues....One admires the intellectual athleticism of Johnson’s maneuvers here." Boston Globe
Johnson addresses an urgent and universal question: What sparks the flash of brilliance? How does groundbreaking innovation happen? He provides the complete, exciting, and encouraging story of how the ideas are born that push careers, lives, society, and culture forward.
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 groundbreaking ideas 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 applicable approaches and commonalities that seem to appear at moments of originality. What he finds gives us both an important new understanding of the roots of innovation and a set of useful strategies for cultivating our own creative breakthroughs.
Steven Johnson's next book, Future Perfect, will be available Fall 2012 from Riverhead Books.
About the Author
Steven Johnson is the author of the national bestsellers Everything Bad Is Good for You and Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life, as well as Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software and Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate.
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