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Publisher's Summary

One of our most innovative, popular thinkers takes on - in exhilarating style - one of our key questions: "Where do good ideas come from?"
With Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson pairs the insight of his best-selling Everything Bad Is Good for You and the dazzling erudition of The Ghost Map and The Invention of Air to address an urgent and universal question: 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.
©2010 Steven Johnson (P)2010 Penguin Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Roy on 12-08-10


Steven Johnson has written an ambitious book here. I learned a great deal about innovation and he made me think on multiple levels. Without repeating the book contents noted in earlier reviews, I would say that Chapter 4 was an eye opener for me. It dealt with networking, note taking, and related software. It moves the reader and practitioner beyond Brain Storming for sure. That one chapter is worth the price of the book. If you have read widely in the areas of innovation and technology this book may not be another for your list. If you want a broad orientation in a package that contains many, many ideas, this book may well be your choice. It is well written, informative, and the reading of Eric Singer is excellent. The final chapter is a summary and conclusion that you will not want to omit from your hearing. I really hope that Johnson will produce another book greatly expanding on his ideas outlined in Chapter 4.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Alex Quinn on 02-07-11

Intriguing, relevant, and engaging

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.

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7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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