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Paddy's Lament, Ireland 1846-1847: Prelude to Hatred
Thomas Gallagher
Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One
Jenny K. Blake
When in French: Love in a Second Language
Lauren Collins
Beyond the Job Description: How Managers and Employees Can Navigate the True Demands of the Job
Jesse Sostrin
Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing
David Hubel, Margaret S. Livingstone
Achieving Your Potential As A Photographer: A Creative Companion and Workbook
Harold Davis
Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age
Sherry Turkle
Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs (Voices That Matter)
Roberto Valenzuela
Man's Search for Meaning
Viktor E. Frankl, Harold S. Kushner
Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection
Jacob Silverman

Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation - Steven Johnson Saw Steve Johnson speak at the Boston Book Festival in 2010, so I got the book out of the library. Interesting discussion of how "good ideas" develop: -- the adjacent possible. sorta the next step from where the idea is now. Innovative environments help their inhabitants explore the adjacent possible, because they expose a wide and diverse sample of spare parts and they encourage novel ways of recombining those parts. Get exposed to as many ideas as you can and be rewarded for experimenting.-- liquid networks. High-density liquid networks make it easier for innovation to happen, but they also serve the essential function of storing those innovations. Think N. Italian cities during the Renaissance. Artistic and scientific flowering, combined with innovations in banking, accounting, and insurance. This is not about a global or hive mind though. It is not the wisdom of the crowd, but the wisdom of someone in the crowd. Individuals get smarter because they are connected to the network. -- the slow hunch. The challenge of the slow hunch is preserving the hunch in your own memory -- write it down. Use of the commonplace book. The tradition of the commonplace book contains a central tension between order and chaos, between the desire for methodical arrangement, and the desire for surprising new links of association. Moves on to a discussion of how Berners-Lee developed the idea of the World Wide Web, starting with a childhood exposure to a kind of encyclopedia in England, Enquire Within Upon Everything. -- serendipity. The brain's "chaos" mode is where the brain assimilates new information -- a kind of background dreaming. Going for a walk or taking a bath or a shower often brings on this state. Private serendipity can be cultivated by technology -- DEVONthink for Macs. If you want to build a daily reading list of eclectic and diverse perspectives, you can stitch one together in your RSS reader or your bookmarks bar. Just as important, you can use the Web to fill out the context when you do stumble across some interesting new topic. If the commonplace book tradition tells us that the best way to nurture hunches is to write everything down, the serendipity engine of the Web suggests a parallel directive: look everything up. Make the ideas public, and have them stored somewhere they can be accessed and discovered again. -- error. A paradoxical truth about good ideas. They are more likely to emerge in environments that contain a certain amount of noise and error. A good idea has to be correct on some basic level . . . but noise-free environments end up being too sterile and predictable in their output. The best innovation labs are always a little contaminated. -- exaptation. a process in which a feature acquires a function that was not acquired through natural selection. In The Act of Creation, Arthur Koestler argued that "all decision events in the history of scientific thought can be described in terms of mental cross-fertilization between different disciplines." Concepts from one domain migrate to another as a kind of structuring metaphor, thereby unlocking some secret door that had long been hidden from view. Shared environments, such as coffeehouses, facilitate exchanges. It's not encouragement that is needed so much as collisions that happen when different fields of expertise converge in some shared physical or intellectual space. The influence of AM radio on Brian Eno and the album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, an utterly original mix of African rhythm sections and oddball acoustic instruments. . .instead of traditional singing, Bryne and Eno built the songs around the layered, looped ensemble of spoken words that Eno had grabbed from the airwaves. It was a case study in creative exaptation. Several yrs later, Public Enemy recorded It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back -- deliberately mimicking the Eno and Bryne album/approach. Public Enemy's album went on to become one of the most sonically influential records of its decade, reverberating through the wider culture in everything from cell phone jingles to billboard chart-toppers to avant-garde experimentation. "Weak ties", wide diverse networks. The value of the weak tie lies not just in the speed with which it transmits information across a network; it also promotes the exaptation of those ideas. Gutenberg trained as a metallurgist, but also had weak ties to vintners.Hobbies. Legendary innovators like Franklin, Snow [John -- the cholera outbreak in London], and Darwin all possess common intellectual qualities, but they also have a lot of hobbies. "It's not so much a question of thinking outside the box, as it is allowing the mind to move through multiple boxes. That movement from box to box forces the mind to approach intellectual roadblocks from new angles, or to borrow tools from one discipline to solve problems in another."-- platforms.