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October 05, 2010

Steven Johnson on where good ideas come from

Remember that fun cartoonist video paired with Philip Zimbardo talking about our funny relationship with time? Unsurprisingly, there are more such videos. I like this one, on Steven Johnson's new book "Where Good Ideas Come From". There's not a whole lot really revolutionary in what he says, but it's a good and thoughtful reminder that good ideas need time to incubate and they often need to be shared, borrowed or recombined (like genes, no?) in order to reach their full potential.

Of course, there's an important flip side to this sensible sounding idea, which is don't bad ideas often also incubate for a long time and often get shared, borrowed or recombined? The real question would seem to be Are there any genuine differences between where good ideas come from and where bad ideas come from? Selfishly, I'd like to think that the pressure of "publish or perish" and "fund thyself" is an example of how to encourage the production of bad ideas, but then I have to remind myself that many of the people who launched the scientific revolution in the 1600s in England, founded the Royal Society, and changed the world forever also had to work as medical doctors in order to fund their research on the side.

Tip to Nikolaus.

posted October 5, 2010 04:30 PM in Thinking Aloud | permalink


I agree that what he says is not revolutionary.. however the way he explains difficult concepts in such as simple manner is quite revolutionary itself.. Very refreshing as well as entertaining..


Posted by: AK at October 12, 2010 04:34 AM