Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation Hardcover – October 5, 2010
|New from||Used from|
Audio CD, Audiobook
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
From Publishers Weekly
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.) (c)
Copyright © PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The figure of the lone genius may captivate us, but we intuit that such geniuses’ creations don’t materialize in a vacuum. Johnson supported the intuition in his biography of eighteenth-century scientist Joseph Priestly (The Invention of Air, 2009) and here explores it from different angles using sets of anecdotes from science and art that underscore some social or informational interaction by an inventor or artist. Assuring readers that he is not engaged in “intellectual tourism,” Johnson recurs to the real-world effects of individuals and organizations operating in a fertile information environment. Citing the development of the Internet and its profusion of applications such as Twitter, the author ascribes its success to “exaptation” and “stacked platforms.” By which he means that curious people used extant stuff or ideas to produce a new bricolage and did so because of their immersion in open networks. With his own lively application of stories about Darwin’s theory of atolls, the failure to thwart 9/11, and musician Miles Davis, Johnson connects with readers promoting hunches and serendipity in themselves and their organizations. --Gilbert Taylor
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
He is not shy in contrasting this shared knowledge with the "silo-building" of the FBI that continues to fail our country by isolating key information from other agencies like the CIA. I remember reading after 9/11 that the failures of sharing vital information of national security was to be fixed by the creation of Homeland Security. Then the bombing at the Boston Marathon occurs and the investigation shows "silo-building" was again in play between the the CIA and the FBI,
At least the folks in the private sector understand the value of creative thinking.
The lessons drawn from the past can be applied today and tomorrow. They include: 1) the notion that ideas are not a single thing, but more like a swarm, 2) good ideas are not conjured up out of thin air, but are built out of a collection of existing parts, the composition of which expands over time, 3) the way we collect, store, and use information can make us more creative and innovative, 4) pay attention to our hunches and cultivate them 5) pay attention to memories and dreams, they represent the creative chaos of our minds, 6) making mistakes forces us to explore, and 7) borrow, recycle, reinvent, and build upon the ideas of others.
The book reads more like a mystery as the author leads the reader through his analysis of events from the past. I particularly like the balanced view he provides. About the time you are ready to accept his premise, he challenges the very view that he has espoused. In that way, it is an energizing experience to follow his flow of thought. By the end of the book, it is ironic (or is it?) that he has immersed you into the very patterns that he described.
With the topic of innovation being so heavily in vogue today, I recommend this book to gain a fresh perspective from the annals of its history.
This book, despite a title that sounds sort of warm and fuzzy, puts forth some interesting ideas about ideas, with quite a few meaty and entertaining anecdotes from wide ranging sources. Johnson relates the fascinating history of many interesting ideas such as the World Wide Web, GPS, YouTube, the pacemaker, the air conditioner, the triode, the theory of island formation, the printing press, the nature of neural connections, the method of transmission of cholera and many others.
Johnson's definition of ideas is not limited to human ideas. He includes good ideas by chemical and biological actors through evolution in his definition.
While this may seem unusual, it is completely consistent with Johnson's view of progress. He begins with the notion of the "adjacent possible", which is the set of possibilities enabled by taking one step beyond the current state of things. The notion is that most ideas are variants on things that already exist. It is accumulations of these variations that comprise progress. This is consistent with biologist Francois Jacob's notion of evolution as a tinkerer, rather than an engineer. Johnson notes that there are exceptions. But even in the case of of revolutionary theories, there are often preconditions which set the stage for Darwin and Wallace to both discover evolution, or Newton and Leibniz to both invent calculus.
Following from this premise, what is needed to foster ideas is an environment which continually brings together existing concepts by being both sufficiently dense and fluid to create fruitful new combinations. This is why a coral reef is a fertile ecosystem, urban environments are hotbeds of cultural progress and the Internet fosters advances of all kinds at an unprecedented rate.
A couple of interesting examples of bringing together ideas from different areas are the application of the wine press to printing books by Gutenberg, and the application of the punch card, invented for mechanical looms, to data processing.
Johnson discusses the commonplace book, a type of scrapbook used by John Locke, Francis Bacon, John Milton, Joseph Preistley, Erazmus Darwin and Charles Darwin to not only save interesting ideas from different sources, but index them so as to bring loosely connected entries together in the author's mind. Johnson has implemented his own modern day commonplace book using a software tool called DevonThink.
The latter portion of the book is a discussion of individual vs network and market driven vs "open source" in the generation of inventions. He sees a historical shift over time from the individual, market driven inventor to the the networked, open source model of invention. In this argument, his is somewhat at odds with the views of Matt Ridley, whose Rational Optimist argues persuasively that trade and the market have always been the driving force behind progress and the evolution of ideas.
His arguments are largely consistent with the thesis of Arthur's The Nature of Technology, also excellent. Arthur is somewhat more narrowly focused but also compelling in his case for incremental progress.
Johnson also a large appendix which contains a chronicle of key innovations from 1400-2000 with a paragraph on each.
The book is well written and insightful. Highly recommended.
Most recent customer reviews
But the way in which the author explores each of them, going from marine biology to...Read more