If you are looking to understand the science and history around innovation grounded in facts that span the life of Ford, 3M, and Apple then this is the book for you.
Steven does a good job beating (read repetitive) into the science behind what makes innovation so special and albeit hard to manufacture.
It has been a while but I am reviewing this before I close the account for future readers. I know I liked this book and it skips about like the old show "Connections" (not that old), where it flits from idea to idea like a butterfly to flowers. So if that is going to bother you, and you want in-depth on a single subject, then look elsewhere. I have liked all this author's books and this one is narrated very well with a "normal" reading, not stuffy, no strange voice, no over-drama, no monotone. How novel of an idea, no? General intellectual interest with flairs of history and science, this one felt more like a survey if I recall correctly and touches on the author's previous topics (Dr Snow and Priestly). Of the 3 books I have read by this author I prefer the book on Priestly "The Invention of Air" best and would rank "The Ghost Map" second if not for some super-baritoney narration.
The ideas that good ideas come from a crises, confusion, failure, an d from the use of one idea being used in an entirely different way in another area. How one sphere of activity can change another in very radical ways. Like wine making in Germany gives birth to the movable type printing press.
Just smile at how obviouse and simple the conclusions often were.
This book was so good that I have already listened to it twice and I bought a paper copy of it. I wanted to listen again because some of the points that were made were so important that I wanted to be sure that I absorbed them completely (the adjacent possible, liquid networks, intellectual property, the history of innovation...)
I would compare this book to Tipping Point by Gladwell because it offers a new way of looking at something and the book brings together many disparate concepts in a way that helps the reader to make sense of innovation and what can be done when we tap into our innovations.
Eric Singer has a great voice and he reads clearly and at a great pace. He really draws you into the story.
I was fortunate to be driving from San Diego to San Luis Obispo so I was able to listen to whole way there and then I listened on the say back. In fact, I was so into the book that I got a speeding ticket along the way....
Thank you for writing this book! I bought copies for my three work partners and they have already listened to and read the book.
I might listen again but more importantly I take away ideas that change my habits and get me excited.
John Locke - He really is but I haven't finished. The book is a review of aspects of creativity not a story. I listen in short bursts and it is a good thing since every two minutes, I hear another idea that keeps me occupied for a day.
I can't decide if I like his using different accents for historical figures or not. He is very good at it.
No, too rich, too powerful
Johnson's The Invention of Air is another gold mine
This is an excellent book with concrete evidence how good ideas are generated. Taking examples from multiple fields Steven Johnson shows a very convincing picture of what one needs to do in order to generate good ideas.
By just the title, I had envisioned a business book. However, this was more pop science and history. This is great if you are interested in learning about Darwin's exploits, but probably less so if you want a self help book.
Good stories about good ideas. Johnson devotes a chapter each of a set of seven qualities of innovation, and for the most part it all makes a lot of sense and is well said. People have already said a lot of it before, though, and sometimes Johnson's new terminology is rebranding an old idea. When Johnson coins a new idiom I think he's well-intentioned and trying to update a previous idea with a modern conception, so it's not negligent per se, but perhaps unnecessary.
The book goes into the inception and adoption of good ideas as told through a slew of Johnson's science history anecdotes (this reminded me of Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything) and the reader gets a sense of the slow rise of an idea, in a mind or a larger network of minds, from unseen depths before the "Eureka!" when it splashes through the surface into the public spotlight. Johnson explains this as "The Slow Hunch" to contradict a widespread misconception that solo genius drives the bulk of progress (not unlike the thrust of Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers). A particularly interesting bit addresses a topic that's getting more attention lately, power laws for cities, which display better-than-expected innovation (as measured by patent density, e.g.) among other peculiarly powerful trends.
I was hoping that Johnson would build his seven broad patterns into a platform for a compelling conclusion, but instead Johnson is content to leave it as a platform and concludes with a summary of how to think about the individual struts of the framework rather than explicit theorizing on what his framework might support. I can't say I wouldn't have hesitated too were I in Johnson's journalistic shoes, but I can't help but think it a bit sheepish given the provocative nature of the build-up. He doesn't go far enough to succinctly answer the question behind the book's title.
A worthwhile listen despite its faults! I do think it could be better read by the author, but that's only a hypothetical.
The book is a marvelous exploration of how ideas are formed, inspired and cultivated, and the writing is lucid and compelling.
Such a pity that the reader insists on attempting a foreign accent for every citation, an exercise that is pointless and distracting. The reader's attempt at a German accent early in the book when citing Goethe was so painful that I had to stop mid-stride and hold my gut.
Please read the book but avoid this audio version.