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Where Good Ideas Come From - Steven Johnson

Complete video at: Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From (, discusses a Stanford study that found unusually innovative professionals to have relatively diverse networks of acquaintances. He relates this correlation to the principle of exaptation, a driving force behind much biological and technological evolution. ----- Steven Johnson on Where Good Ideas Come From. Recorded in collaboration with Booksmith bookstore, on October 11, 2010. How and why do world-changing ideas surface? Johnson writes, "The argument of this book is that a series of shared properties and patterns recur again and again in unusually fertile environments. I have distilled them down into seven patterns: the adjacent possible; liquid networks; the slow hunch; serendipity; error; exaptation; and emergent platforms. The more we embrace these patterns -- in our private work habits and hobbies, in our office environments, in the design of new software tools -- the better we will be at tapping our extraordinary capacity for innovative thinking." Johnson traces these patterns across centuries and disciplines, from the FBI's tragic failure to grasp the importance of information that might have prevented the 9/11 terrorist attacks to Gutenberg's use of wine-press technology to build the world's first printing press with moveable type to the founding of Google on a Net-transforming hunch. But the relevant question, Johnson insists, is not how these guys got to be so clever (or not). Rather, what we need to ask is: What kind of environment fosters remarkable innovation? With seven critically acclaimed books, the two most recent being New York Times Notable Books, Steven Johnson has demonstrated that he can pinpoint an urgent cultural issue and illuminate it with dazzling cross-disciplinary insights. Whether tweaking conventional wisdom in Everything Bad is Good for You, offering captivating new perspectives on the conflict between science and religion in The Invention of Air, or debunking skepticism about the significance of Twitter in a cover story for Time magazine, Johnson has commanded a prominent perch in the public discourse. Now Johnson bridges natural science, intellectual history, urban sociology, and cutting-edge technology to explore one of our most pressing cultural questions, and to offer persuasive, inspiring, and practical answers that readers can use to propel their lives and careers forward. Steven Johnson is the founder of a variety of influential websites -- most recently, -- and writes for Time, Wired, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. With 1.5 million Twitter followers, he is widely regarded as one of the world's most perceptive and thought-provoking thinkers on new media and the evolution of information technology. His previous books are The Invention of Air, The Ghost Map, Everything Bad is Good for You, Mind Wide Open, Emergence, and Interface Culture.
Length: 03:50


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