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Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation »

Book cover image of Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson

Authors: Steven Johnson
ISBN-13: 9781594487712, ISBN-10: 1594487715
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Date Published: October 2010
Edition: (Non-applicable)

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Author Biography: Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson is the founder of several influential websites, including FEED, Plastic, and, currently, A popular lecturer, he has spoken everywhere from Google to conferences such as TED.

Book Synopsis

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.

The Barnes & Noble Review

Where Good Ideas Come From is itself a very excellent idea, and in a meta kind of way it follows its precepts for discovery; Johnson uses exaptation and the unfurling of the adjacent possible in his own work. The book is science writing for a broad audience at its highest level -- accessible but challenging, humming with new ideas, and finally, inspiring.

Table of Contents

Introduction Reef, City, Web 1

I The Adjacent Possible 23

II Liquid Networks 43

III The Slow Hunch 67

IV Serendipity 97

V Error 129

VI Exaptation 149

VII Platforms 175

Conclusion The Fourth Quadrant 211

Acknowledgments 247

Appendix: Chronology of Key Innovations, 1400-2000 251

Notes and Further Reading 295

Bibliography 303

Index 315




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