Where Good Ideas Come from - Review

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The argument of this book {Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation By Steven Johnson} is that a series of shared properties and patterns recur again and again in unusually fertile environments. The have been distilled down into seven patterns. 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. These patterns turn out to have a long history, much older than most of the systems that have been conventionally associated with innovation. If there is a single maxim that runs through this book’s arguments, it is that we are often better served by connecting ideas than we are by protecting them. Like the free market itself, the case for restricting the flow of innovation has long been buttressed by appeals to the "natural " order of things. But the truth is, when one looks at innovation in nature and in culture, environments that build walls around good ideas tend to be less innovative in the long run than more open-ended environments. Good ideas may not want to be free, but they do want to connect, fuse, recombine. They want to reinvent themselves by crossing conceptual borders. They want to complete each other as much as they want to compete. The seven patterns are as follows:

I.Adjacent Possible – basically it is the “shadow future, hovering on the edges of the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself”. The strange and beautiful truth about the adjacent possible is that its boundaries grow as you explore those boundaries. Good ideas are not conjured out of thin air; they are built out of a collection of existing parts, the composition of which expands (and, occasionally, contracts) over time. . II.Liquid networks - from coffee houses to the MIT Building 20, Lab, or the Microsoft Building 99,...
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