Steven Johnson on 'Where Good Ideas Come From'

Monday, October 04, 2010

idea, light bulb (Cayusa/flickr)

Everyone knows what it feels like to come up with a good idea. It comes from someplace, not completely made out of thin air. Usually it’s being formed in the back of your head among all of the little, unconnected thoughts, memories and hunches until... BAM! It arrives.

What if we tracked the history of the most significant ideas that humans have ever come up with, in order to see if there’s a pattern to these little moments of genius? That'd be a pretty good idea all on its own, right?

Turns out Steven Johnson came up with that little beauty already. Stephen wrote a new book, entitled "Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation."


Steven Johnson

Comments [2]

Lisa from NY Metropolitan area

Mr. Johnson's observation that car parts can be used to save lives by building incubators misses an even more universal medical breakthrough -- it's called kangaroo care. Incubators (called isolettes in American hospitals) require electricity, which is not necessarily available consistently, if at all, in third world countries. By contrast, mothers and fathers usually are available -- a premature infant can be cradled against a parent's chest, for hours, days, weeks, even months, held in place with a drape of cloth, and will get the same benefit (and lengthening of life) as in an incubator. The parent's body temperature will help the tiny baby to maintain a healthy and consistent temperature; the parent's breathing and beating of the heart will help the tiny baby to maintain the same; THIS is the breakthrough, not more machines. My husband and I used kangaroo care (in a hospital setting, with the assistance and support of an isolette) 14 years ago for our prematurely born son (he weighed 2 pounds, 10 ounces then -- he plays football now). Not only does it help the baby to heal itself, but it encourages bonding between parent and child -- something no machine can attain.

Oct. 19 2010 09:46 AM
Kevin Krease from Detroit, MI

It's call Interdisciplinary Studies! It's a niche part of education that doesn't get the attention and funding it should! It was also my major in college...

Oct. 04 2010 09:56 AM

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