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.
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"[A]n interesting book, if you want to be optimistic about the future, by Steven Johnson, a great science writer." - Bill Clinton, speaking at The Health Matters conference
"Future Perfect provides an informative, tech-savvy and provocative vision of a new and more democratic public philosophy. It's a breath of fresh air in an age of gridlock, cynicism and disillusionment.” — San Francisco Chronicle
“Mr. Johnson envisions a new political movement that embraces the potential of peer networks to improve government, medicine, education and journalism, among much else. He distinguishes ‘peer progressives from both libertarians and liberals. The former have too much faith in markets and too little in government, he says, and the latter vice versa. Peer progressives, though, believe that good can be accomplished by all organizations, in any combination, if they harness the power of peer networks.” — Wall Street Journal
“In clear and engaging prose, Johnson writes about this emerging movement . . . Future Perfect is a buoyant and hopeful book. Given the inability of our government to enact worthwhile change, and the near guarantee that Washingtons gridlock will only worsen regardless of which party wins this November, were going to need all the help we can get. Future Perfect reminds us we already have the treatment. We just need to use it.” — Boston Globe
“Forceful argument for a new politics modeled on the structure of the Internet. A thought-provoking, hope-inspiring manifesto.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A wide-ranging sketch of possibilities...frequently inspiring. Above all, it's exciting to reflect on the possibility that the many achievements of the Silicon Valley revolution might be compatible, rather than in tension, with a progressive focus on social justice and participatory democracy.”—The Guardian (UK)
“Fascinating and compelling...Stimulating and challenging, Johnsons thought-provoking ideas steer us steadily into the future.”—Publishers Weekly
Essential reading-and progressive thinking-on the subject of innovation, from the national bestselling author.
Steven Johnson, an acknowledged bestselling leader on the subject of innovation, gathers-for a foundational text on the subject of innovation-essays, interviews, and cutting-edge insights by such exciting field leaders as Peter Drucker, Richard Florida, Eric Von Hippel, Dean Keith Simonton, Arthur Koestler, John Seely Brown, and Marshall Berman. Johnson also provides new material from Marisa Mayer of Google, Twitter's Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey, and Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's former Chief Software Architect. With additional commentary by Johnson himself, this book reveals the innovation found in a wide range of fields, including science, technology, energy, transportation, education, art, and sociology, making it vital, fresh, and fascinating reading for our time, and for the future.
The printing press, the pencil, the flush toilet, the batterythese 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 Johnsons 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. Where Good Ideas Come From gives us both an important new understanding of the history of innovation and a set of useful strategies for cultivating our own creative breakthroughs.
Steven Johnson's newest book, Future Perfect, is now available from Riverhead Books.
Combining the deft social analysis of Where Good Ideas Come From with the optimistic arguments of Everything Bad Is Good for You, New York Times bestselling author and one of the most inspiring visionaries of contemporary culture, Steven Johnson, maps the ways a connected world will be both different and better.
Steven Johnson proposes that a new model of political change is on the rise transforming everything from local government to classrooms to health care. Its a compelling new political worldview that breaks with traditional categories of liberal or conservative thinking. Johnson explores this innovative vision through a series of fascinating narratives: from the Miracle on the Hudson” to the planning of the French railway system; from the battle against malnutrition in Vietnam to a mysterious outbreak of strange smells in downtown Manhattan; from underground music video artists to the invention of the Internet itself. At a time when the conventional wisdom holds that the political system is hopelessly gridlocked with old ideas, Future Perfect makes the timely and uplifting case that progress is still possible.
About the Author
Steven Johnson is the author of seven bestsellers, including Where Good Ideas Come From, The Invention of Air, The Ghost Map, and Everything Bad Is Good for You, and is the editor of the anthology The Innovator's Cookbook. He is the founder of a variety of influential websites--most recently, outside.in--and writes for Time, Wired, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. He lives in Marin County, California, with his wife and three sons.