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on October 8, 2017
Almost finished with the book... maybe a chapter left. I was recommended this book during an entrepreneurship lecture series at my university. It really gave me some perspective as someone who wishes to get into the tech industry. I do agree with some of the other reviews, that this could have been summed up in a couple of pages. It also came across a bit dry during some of the chapters, but that may have been from the voice over (i bought the audible as I only have time to read while I drive... lol). However, I enjoyed hearing the anecdotal evidence and how he came to some of the conclusions for each chapter. If you are short on time, I recommend at least googling his TED talk or reading the main points of the book.
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Certainly, we cannot deny the "Adjacent Possible", "Liquid Networks", "Slow Hunch", "Serendipity", "Error", "Exaptation", and "Platforms" are cognitive situations of our everyday life when innovation can happen. Steven Johnson's book explain a lot of possibilities about innovation that lead our reasoning beyond the innovation "big numbers" of the economists! According to Schumpeter, the brilliant austrian economist of the 1930's, innovation is a multidisciplinar field of study that cannot be explained only by the economics science. The knowledge field that has, by far, much more to tell us about innovation is the Peter Drucker, Alfred Sloan, Igor Ansoff, and Michael Porter's "Business Administration". Whilst the economists just try to explain (looking to the past) innovation impacts on the economy with innovation indicators, such as "high-tech" products traded in a year, Drucker and the business scholars search for evidences to show why, when and how the companies innovate in the market. Johnson's book show us another possible side of the innovation phenomenon: that the innovation is not just a sociotechnical phenomenon, but a natural one (also in the biological sense). This new category of reasoning on innovation brings important consequences to the study of the innovation ontology, showing that the innovation phenomenon is far more complex than we are used to think.
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on February 22, 2015
He could have shortened this book by a third, while easily covering all the ideas. Some repetition was irritating. But there are a number of good points and lots of stories about people and developments I wasn't very familiar with, and I would definitely recommend the book.
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on November 23, 2016
Mr. Johnson, obviously has a great grasp of history and the innovative lessons we can learn from it. This book was a very practical help to anyone trying to cultivate innovation in their lives. I do feel that the principal lessons could have been communicated with more economy of chapters.
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on July 8, 2017
Steven Johnson is a genius. He is eloquent, thoughtful and just plain intelligent. I found this to be interesting and useful for my work (consulting and executive coaching). My only wish would be that he could be just a bit more concise.
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on March 12, 2017
An excellent journey through the ways organizations and individuals innovate and how the human brain works. Good ideas that have meaningful impact spring from a well of mixed streams originating from unlikely sources.
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on March 22, 2015
Both thought provoking and interesting. I think the ideas in this book are very well presented and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It provides perspective to how ideas evolve into things of greatness and how the environments that support these ideas are both a part of nature and also man-made environments. Being able to recognise these aspects of an environment, or lack of is an eye-opener.
I would not hesitate to highly recommend this book. I say, Thank you, to the author for his work in this area.
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on August 19, 2017
So, so , SO good! Steven Johnson is quickly becoming one of my favorite science authors. Well-done!!
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This book reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the Internet age. The facts are up-to-the-minute, the anecdotes extremely well researched. The author, Stephen Johnson, go to some lengths to describe the computer database he uses to assemble and cross-link his references.

He stretches a little bit far for an analogy, comparing the realms of natural history and human inventiveness. One of his metaphors is the coral reef. Charles Darwin marveled at the diversity of life in the waters surrounding coral reefs back in 1836, especially in contrast to the paucity of life on the islands themselves. He then compares cities with coral reefs, noting that human inventiveness increases exponentially as those human beings live in larger agglomerations. It is an interesting point, although perhaps not strong enough to carry an entire book.

One of the surprises is how thin Johnson's biography of real books appears to be. He leans really heavily on Stephen Jay Gould and Malcolm Gladwell. Both of those guys write well and serve up provocative ideas. However, in both cases, many people, including myself, find the provocative ideas to be very frequently out in left field. In Gould's case they are driven by his left of socialist politics, and in Gladwell's by his commitment to diversity and all that that entails. In other words, these are highly flavored writers, useful to add a bit of savor to a book, but a little bit strong for a main course. In the realm of biology, Johnson would've been better off making more frequent quotes from people like Pinker, Dennett, Dawkins, Hrdy, or even Darwin himself. I suspect he would have if he had read them. He is a child of the Internet age. He does have a very extensive bibliography in the back, but all of us who have been to college know how you cook those up. You sometimes just might borrow from other people's bibliographies, or reference the book even though you only read a minor squib from it that you found on the Internet.

Johnson has an ideological point to make with regard to invention. Most modern inventions are made by groups of people with government funding, and the fewest inventions seem to be made by individual inventors motivated by profit alone. I grant this ideological point, though somewhat grudgingly, because it seems to be overly labored and politically laden.

He does have a useful catalog of the major inventions of all time in his appendix. It is presumably the basis for his quadratic compartmentalization of inventions as group or individual, public or private.
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on September 29, 2017
Easy read providing great guidelines and philosophies for exploring and discovering new approaches to common problems. Love the concept of the adjacent possible as a means to never stop exploring possibilities, technologies and forever remaining optimistic about combining these to come up with solutions to any problem.
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