- Hardcover: 303 pages
- Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (June 5, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1591394171
- ISBN-13: 978-1591394174
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #637,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Smart World: Breakthrough Creativity And the New Science of Ideas 1st Edition
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You have to think when you read this book. It's an exercise. One that produces a vastly better intellectual fitness than when you began.
The theme of this book is that the space of ideas think for us. This is an essential book for business people, creative types and anyone who desires a refreshing boost to one's imaginative faculties. Take the following for instance:
"Great artists, scientists, and entrepreneurs have always had deeper faith than most businesspeople, economists, and sociologists in the power of the mind's imaginative faculties to create radically new worlds of possibility." P. 250.
"Corporate leaders, long accustomed to relying on the lens of rational analysis to peer into the future, are going to have to develop their imaginative faculties far beyond what was required for the infamous 1990's "vision thing." P.250.
So much of the effort expended to imagine the possibilities, goes on in the wrong spaces. Listen to Ogle:
"From now on, successful business models intended to address future development will need to include, in addition to reality based analysis, a component mapping out the relevant spaces of the extended mind. Indeed, this is where the highest priority lies, since it is imagination, intuition, and insight that create the space within which rational analysis goes to work. Great failures and successes stem from this fact - failures of imagination resulting from doing intense analysis in the `wrong space.' (emphasis is mine) P.251.
This book truly makes the case for harnessing the power of neural networks -- the idea spaces that inhabit our existence today. The veracity of the term "self-sufficiency" has just been impugned by this work. As Ogle declares: "In an open, dynamic, scale-free network with positive feedback loops between hubs, the fit get fitter." P.116
Yet it is so much more than that. It's about the development of what Ogle refers to as "adaptive intelligence:"
"What these abstract but rigorous formulations reveal is the central fact that breakthrough creativity is inherently an emergent process governed by laws of network dynamics. Analytical reason, because by definition it looks back to established facts and premises, is blind in such situations. On the other hand, the intelligent imagination - that is, imagination intuitively attuned to sensing emerging fitness - is capable of producing adaptive intelligence, new thinking that grasps the direction in which the future is unfolding." P. 116 (emphasis is mine).
As Ogle says, "Belief in the necessity of centralized control dies hard." P. 112. Well, this work is certainly a profound contribution to the alternative that has emerged, and is among us. How to harness this new transcendent ability is the true, practical contribution of this book.
"Smart World claims that the right place to look for laws governing creative leaps is in network science, whose newly discovered principles drive the dynamics of the extended mind's component idea-spaces."
Welcome to the world of what Ogle refers to as the "extended mind, " or "the mind out there." P.23.
It was either David Brooks or David Sanger on Carlie Rose one night who mentioned this particular book as one of the most overlooked books in the past several years. I am SO glad I took the recommendation. You will be too. Buy it!
- Discovery of DNA
- Microcomputer revolution
- Barbie doll and
- Gutenberg's printing press.
On the negative side, the attempt to bring these different concepts into a overall creativity framework, although an heroic effort, results in a very difficult book to read and understand. And, when you are done with it, you wonder if you really can apply these ideas that he brings forth. Consequently, the last chapter and the last pages especially, left me somewhat disappointed.
However, I would recommend reading the book for the innovation examples, and see if you can obtain a perspective on how to use this.
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.