Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation (英語) ペーパーバック – 2011/10/4
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A fascinating deep dive on innovation from the New York Times bestselling author of How We Got To Now and Farsighted
The printing press, the pencil, the flush toilet, the battery--these are all great ideas. But where do they come from? What kind of environment breeds them? What sparks the flash of brilliance? How do we generate the breakthrough technologies that push forward our lives, our society, our culture? Steven Johnson's answers are revelatory as he identifies the seven key patterns behind genuine innovation, and traces them across time and disciplines. From Darwin and Freud to the halls of Google and Apple, Johnson investigates the innovation hubs throughout modern time and pulls out the approaches and commonalities that seem to appear at moments of originality.
"[A] rich, integrated and often sparkling book. Mr. Johnson, who knows a thing or two about the history of science, is a first-rate storyteller."--"The New York Times"
"A vision of innovation and ideas that is resolutely social, dynamic and material...Fluidly written, entertaining and smart without being arcane."--"Los Angeles Times"
"A magical mystery tour of the history and architecture of innovation."--"The Oregonian"
"A rapid-fire tour of 'spaces' large, small, mental, physical, and otherwise... Where Good Ideas Come From may be the ultimate distillation of his thinking on these issues... One admires the intellectual athleticism of Johnson's maneuvers here."--"Boston Globe"
Overall, the book was written at a very high level when it comes to Where Good Ideas Come From, which was an interesting approach with examples thrown in for good measure. I am very glad I received and read this book, even if it wasn't what I expected.
tl;dr An interesting read on the general nature of ideas, not case studies
Decent writing if you can get over the smart tone of the author.
Until the last chapter when it turns into a weird argument against private sector and intellectual property laws - "When you introduce financial rewards into a system, barricades and secrecy emerge, making it harder for the open patterns of innovation to work their magic." Markets, the private sector, and "private corporations" are the villains here with the "public sector modern research university" as the hero. The author is twisting everything into a pretzel to fit into that argument ruining what was a decent book at that point.
For example he's deliberately mixing practical innovations such as pencils, air conditioning or helicopters with theoretical knowledge such as the shape of the DNA, the theory of relativity, or cosmic rays. He then makes a random inventory of these different things based on how "big" they seem to him and then puts them into "market" (profit motivated corporations or individuals) vs "non market" (non profit motivated academics) categories based on what he thinks the motivations of their inventors / discoverers were. He then says "look there's more oranges in the non market bucket than apples in the market bucket therefore the oranges farmer is better than the apples farmer."
He also rants about the intellectual property laws. Patents are the tools private sector firms use to "block the flow of ideas", you see, as opposed to universities that create open networks and share ideas. Never mind that universities file for patents at a higher rate than private firms. Never mind that private firms and universities collaborate closely for they are natural partners. Never mind that publishing a patent is precisely intended to share information that would otherwise be kept secret (the exclusivity is the price society pays the inventor to disclose the invention so that others can see it and build on it - maybe not a perfect system but it has been working).
He even brings up Marx and Engels for the sole reason to praise them for being so smart as to recognize Darwin's ideas as important. Really just to praise them and to show us he knows what Hegelian dialectics means. So smart. If you bring up Marx in a book on innovation you should probably mention that failing to understand technological progress is one of the many failures of Marxism. Marx did not see a beyond steam engines.
There was no need to this straw man argument at the end, other than to probably scratch an ideological itch.