Alex Quinn

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  • Where Good Ideas Come From

  • The Natural History of Innovation
  • By: Steven Johnson
  • Narrated by: Eric Singer
  • Length: 7 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 911
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 647
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 642

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.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Ambitious

  • By Roy on 12-08-10

Intriguing, relevant, and engaging

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-07-11

For someone trying to invent good ideas, create an environment that leads to them, or just understand how they come about, this book is a gem. It is not a how-to per se, but the analysis is intriguing, fresh, and relevant, and the narration gives it shape and energy, making it a pleasure to follow.

● The book brings together a diverse range of views of innovation. This includes those who believe innovation needs walled gardens and a free market, as well as those who believe it needs open communities where ideas can be shared. The book balances these perspectives beautifully. (Note: Much of this synthesis comes in the book's conclusion.)

● The parallels with biological innovation are absolutely relevant and used pointedly for helping you to understand innovation in societies. They strengthen the points about modern innovation considerably. (Note: Some of it might seem banal to a biologist. I personally know very little about biology.)

● Narration really made the book for me. The book is arguing a point of view, so it's entirely appropriate that the narrator bring some spirit into it. To me, it felt genuine, as if the author were arguing the points himself.

● Accents used by the narrator seemed perfectly appropriate to me. I have no idea if they were accurate or not, but since he was quoting a variety of perspectives, it helped make boundaries between voices and it made the reading more engaging.

As a doctoral student in computer science trying to develop something new, this book was helpful and influential. Compared to other books I've read, and the content of a couple of related courses I've taken in recent years, this was the most satisfying and most useful perspective I've encountered so far. Thus, I was surprised by some of the criticism from some others who listened to this book and reviewed it here.

Note: I have no connection to the publisher, author, narrator, producer, etc. I found the book via a recommendation from a prominent researcher.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful