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Smart World: Breakthrough Creativity And the New Science of Ideas Hardcover – June 5, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-1591394174 ISBN-10: 9781591394174 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 303 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (June 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781591394174
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591394174
  • ASIN: 1591394171
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #868,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A provocative look at the creative process..." --BusinessWeek, July 9, 2007

About the Author

Richard Ogle is an entrepreneur, consultant, and independant scholar.

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Customer Reviews

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See all 18 customer reviews
I have been reading and re-reading this book for over two weeks.
T. D. Bjornsson
This is a very interesting book to read if you are interested in innovation from a wide variety of angles.
Jeff Bennett
All in all, this is a very good book, with many new tools for understanding the dynamics of creativity.
David Forrest

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Although we recognize and appreciate the importance of the human mind's capability for breakthrough creativity (e.g. DNA, printing with movable type, the personal computer), Richard Ogle acknowledges, "the mental processes that led to them have remained largely beyond our grasp. Where do truly innovative ideas come from, and how does the mind make the leap to embrace them? What role do existing cultural and social factors play? Above all, what are the primary mental faculties involved in creativity, and how do they work?" These are among the questions to which Ogle responds in this volume. His objective is to provide "a theoretical and practical account of achievements that before were generally regarded as the unfathomable products of genius." He succeeds brilliantly by forging "a deep connection between the discoveries concerning discontinuity made in the emerging science of networks, the imaginative processes underlying creative leaps, and the law-governed dynamics of a networked model of idea--spaces in the extended mind."

Ogle has identified nine laws of network science, any one or combination thereof that can explain creative breakthroughs. For example, "The Law of Tipping Points": Under certain critical conditions, order arises out of disorder. Malcolm Gladwell devotes an entire book, The Tipping Point, to examining how relatively insignificant factors can have profound impact. In scientific terms, this is the concept of "phased transitions" or, as Thomas Kuhn describes them in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, "paradigm shifts.
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54 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Ian D. Gray on July 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book interesting in its descriptions of how innovations such as the PC, the printing press and Barbie(!) came about - it was fascinating to see how these things evolved and the confluence of ideas, influences and accidents which led to them.

However, I found the author's central thesis to be confused and (as a research mathematician myself in graph theory), I felt that he did not really understand the mathematics upon which he relies so heavily. He did not seem to understand that 'idea spaces' are not 'real', that they do not interact autonomously, but only through the mediation of a human mind. It is human minds that are exposed to unique sets of ideas and connect them together. While the ideas may be out there in human artefacts such as books, websites, machines, artworks etc, it takes a human mind to put them together. If you read his case studies without his theory, it becomes very clear that this is in fact the case. Lock a whole lot of books in a room and see how many ideas they come up with. Clearly none since books are simply a means of passively storing knowledge and it takes a human to 'activate' that knowledge. While network theory may deal with abstract relationships between nodes and their connections, when applied to the real world, these nodes are 'things': people, species, businesses, servers, power stations, cities, communities, chemicals whatever, not abstractions such as 'idea spaces'.

So overall, while I found the book interesting, I didn't find the thesis particulalry convincing and found that it obscured rather then elucidated the lessons to be learned from the author's examples.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By bronx book nerd VINE VOICE on October 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book was a bit of a challenge. First, I am not totally convinced that Ogle has discovered anything new but makes it appear to be so by inventing creative terminology. He borrows his ideas from the emerging field of network science and it is somewhat difficult to follow his explanations. What makes it particularly difficult is his introduction of his laws with their new-fangled terminology. Anyway, it seems to me that he could have made it easier for his readers had he come up with less convoluted jargon. A lot of authors today oversimplify language to make their books accessible to the largest market; this one errs in the opposite direction.

A lot of what he does say makes sense but is expressed differenty than in the past. For example, the notion that there is an "expanded" mind in the sense that the environment does the thinking for you. An example is the alphabet, which is set up so that you can easily choose any one of 26 letters and come up with a word. You don't have to start from scratch. Also the notion of idea-spaces; that is, fields or areas or conceptual schema that have imbedded in them certain ways of seeing or thinking about the world. There is, for example, the idea space of classical science, where science is practiced in a partucular way, or the idea space of modernist architecture, where architects abide by certain rules and applications. When different idea-spaces come together; e.g. when Frank Gerhy linked architecture with modern art, something new emerges. This happens, according to Ogle, when "weak ties" are connected. This is not new. Many creativity gurus speak about connecting completely different things together to come up with something new.
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