ACritical Analysis of Steven Johnson’s WhereGood Ideas Come From
ACritical Analysis of Steven Johnson’s WhereGood Ideas Come From
Steven Johnson’s book, WhereGood Ideas Come From: A Natural History of Innovation,illustrates the exploration of innovations and conception of newideas. The book is a masterpiece and a lucid read especially forpeople who endeavor to create ideas and designs. The author providesnumerous pragmatic strategies, which allows readers to generateideas. Johnson suggests seven fundamental configurations that areheuristically effective in the generation of new ideas. Moreover,Johnson claims that the concepts favorable to productive ideas anddevelopments exist within the human and natural worlds thus, withthe right networks and focus, people can generate fruitful ideas. Onthe other hand, Johnson offers a summary of his experiences andknowledge as well as the concepts he has employed or explored in hisprevious books, which allow the book to develop clearly. However, thebook is not a book with a comprehensive case study or a scholarlyexposition thus, some people may find it rather shallow in itsillustrations or explanations. However, the book offers fascinatingand inter-disciplinary insights and patterns thus, a splendid book.In this regards, the analysis centers on the main ideas of the booksas well as offer a critical evaluation of the book by highlightingits thoughtlessness or prudence.
In the introductory part, theauthor proposes that in most occasions, people living in urban areasare more productive in innovation. The availability of resources inthe urban areas facilitates the capacity of people becomingproductive. In fact, Johnson asserts that technology and urbanenvironments are dynamic nourishments for creativity hence, peoplein urban areas are at an advantage in conceptualizing ideas. Livingin the rural areas is characterized by an insufficiency of recoursesand in most occasions, people from the rural areas are not asproductive as they should be hence, this assertion is an importantaspect in realizing effective situations for conceptualizing ideas.In urban areas, an individual has a variety of choices from whichthey are given the opportunity to choose (Johnson, 2010). In thissense, the urban development gives an individual the ability tochoose from most of the opportunities that are presented to them. Theauthor focuses on the point that every person has the objective ofbecoming innovative and, at least, contributing to the society ifonly they incorporate situational conditions and connections. Theencouragement is that at least every person should contribute totheir lives and become productive. The productivity of individualcounts on the success in innovative plans that they have developed.Most people have the ability to become innovative in different ways.
In the first part of the book, theauthor discusses the configuration of carbon atoms that pulled theair. As time progressed, the atoms did not spontaneously arrangethemselves to become the complex forms such as living organismshence, the author draws a parallel that an individual’s ability tobecome innovative in success does not develop drastically. Innovativeplans need to be conceptualized (Johnson, 2010). Afterconceptualization, an individual has the responsibility ofresearching into the plan then come up with strategies to ensure theplan is established. The concept in this regard is that people cannotdevelop a plan at once. An individual needs to undergo differentstages of developing the idea first. Through the stages, anindividual realizes how to integrate some important aspects into theinnovative plan. The author discusses that the atoms had to formsimpler structures, which are molecular in nature and in each stepthere was a developing of the progressive stages. This explains theneed to devise a plan for the innovation and the advancement of theinnovative idea.
A person needs to identify thenecessary facilities required to accomplish a task. In taskaccomplishment, the individual understands the possibility and theimpossible parts of the prospective idea (Johnson, 2010). Forexample, the author says that eBay could not be developed before theadvancement of technology, which shows how technology is an importantaspect in conceptualizing an idea as well as shows how eureka momentsare a farce. In this relation, computers needed to be developed firstthen eBay could be developed later. The success of eBay depended onthe computer development it is agreeable to the author thatinnovative plans need to be carried out in different stages. The needto have a development in innovation depends on the previousdevelopment, which might involve different people. Innovative plansdo not depend on one individual. The innovative plan can be built onthe bay by different people who have a common line of interest.
In the second part of the book, theauthor affirms that the world changing ideas are evolutionary. Inthis regard, the author takes on evolution as a slow hunch in whichthe innovative plan has to take longer to mature. Johnson’s ideason creativity are heuristic in nature and he sees instant hunches inthe conceptualization of an idea as a rarity in history. One can drawa lesson from the fact that Johnson describes important discoveriesas developments hinged on vague and hard to describe senses. Ininnovation of ideas, the concept is that the plan has to take longerthan the expected (Johnson, 2010). It is true that for the innovationof an object, there must be a continuous process, which takes longertime where the chain of innovators always comes up with ideas thatare developing the primary developer’s idea. The author gave anexplanation that although the discovery might seem to have happenedonce they had taken longer time. The slow hunches of the developmentprogram are always the start of a success as through differentcontributions from different people, the ability to innovate a finalproduct is enabled. A single product may seem small but it must havetaken a series of thoughts to come up with the final product. Forexample, in developing the Darwinian Theory of natural selection,Charles Darwin did not just develop the theory by himself, but heactually developed the theory from the works of Malthus, which showsthat innovation connects ideas of different people combined together.
Johnson discusses what he callsserendipity where ideas develop on the backdrop of dreamwork.However, this part fails to relate dreamwork with epistemology suchas intuitions and breaking out, which would have given the book acomprehensive depth on frameworks. However, the book emphasizes thatplatforms are the springboards of innovation in a creative andeffective manner. The ability of the innovators to develop an idea istriggered by at least some factors around them. On the other hand,the author offers, perhaps one of the most significant and oftenignored fact about creativity and the conceptualization of ideas.Johnson (2010) lists error as a utility to creativity, which may seemcounterintuitive to the discussion, but he offers explanations andexamples, which shows that error is a significant component ofsuccess. For example, he cites other resources that important ideasemerge in situations where noise and error are present.
The author clarifies thatinnovation and evolution show thriving conditions in larger networks.In this regard, the author shows that in order to realize success inan innovative idea, an individual needs to form a relationship with alarger network. Relating to the first discussion, the authordiscussed that the carbon atoms are easily compounded. This isbecause the carbon atoms can easily combine with other atoms, whichallows the emergence of other structures. Without the elements ofcarbon, the earth could not have existed (Johnson, 2010). A broadnetwork of operation enhances an individual’s perspective of theidea that they have. Wider networks facilitate better understandingthat the people would make new discoveries. In the past, for thepsychologist to identify the roots of a scientific breakthrough, theywould record situations in which a molecular substance would evolvehence, they had to develop a wider network to discuss their findingswith their fellow scientist to come up with a final work. Therefore,the process involves interaction with different personalities todevelop an innovation.
Bookcritique: Significance of the book
The book is a magical read andprovides a mystery tour of the architecture and history of innovationby summarizing Johnson’s experience. In the numerous inventionsthat Johnson discusses, he uses a provocative language that keepsreaders glued. Perhaps, one of the most noteworthy aspect of the bookis the personalization of ideas where the author draws unanticipatedinferences from the individual account and then weave the storiesinto the next story. For instance, he illustrates that good conceptsare built on previous works and depend upon the incentives providedby connections through stories. Moreover, the author illustrates thenumerous accounts with clarity and a comprehensive framework.However, Johnson fails to illustrate how institutions shape theprospect of new concepts and designs, especially researchlaboratories and think tanks. There is no doubt that the bookfeatures companies such as Apple and Google, but the author failscompletely to show how the firms shape the prospect of ideas.
Most books on creativity,conceptions, and innovations focus on the notion that a small numberof remarkably smart persons have had eureka moments, but Johnson’sbook challenges this perception. Johnson regards eureka moment as abit of a cliché as big and effective ideas require more than amoment of magic. For example, he addresses topics such as theDarwinian evolution, perfect population density of Park Slope, TheWire, the French Revolution, and the first computer, ideas that didnot come at the backdrop of a eureka moment. Johnson (2010) opinesthat it is difficult for an individual working alone sees abreakthrough that alters the world in a moment of abrupt clarity. Forexample, Johnson (2010) offers the story of Stephane Tarnier, theFrench doctor who in the 1870s saw chicken fledglings’ incubatorsand hired the hatchlings’ raiser to build incubators for prematureinfants. The development of the incubators led to the reduction ofinfant mortality greatly across the world. Most people or books havehad a tendency to romanticize breakthrough conceptions and imaginingmomentous designs transcend situations, but Johnson challenges thisnotion by asserting that concepts are works of bricolage. He assertsthat the conception of ideas is a complex process, which involvesgetting ideas from connections or stumbling upon them and thenfurnish them to come up with new configurations. Moreover, Johnsonfocuses on the different components of cultural situations thatnurture atmosphere for creativity as well as the periodicconfigurations that help in bringing great conceptions intorealization. As such, Johnson believes that urbanization andtechnology are powerful stimulants of invention and discovery.
The book targets inspiringindividuals toward becoming innovative in their own perspectives.This is shown by the fact that the author encourages people todiscover their own potentials and concentrate on how to develop them.Through the book, an individual realizes how to integrate someimportant aspects into their innovative plan. Through the author’sdiscussion that the atoms had to form simpler structures, which aremolecular in nature and in each step, there was a developing of theprogressive stages, he aims at inspiring individuals to start theirinnovative ideas from a single step. This explains the need to devisea plan for the innovation and the advancement of the innovative idea.Innovative plans do not depend on one individual. Hence, the booktargets the cooperation of different people to come up with adevelopment of an innovative idea. Different people who have a commonline of interest can build on the innovative plan.
By giving an explanation thatdiscoveries take long to develop, the book encourages people tobecome creative and utilize networks, urban environments, andtechnology to develop and conceptualize ideas. Slow hunches of thedevelopment program are always the start of a success hence, thebook gives different contributions from different people, whichenhances their ability to innovate a final product. For an individualto become innovative they need to have at least an idea about aprevious work then relate it to their new idea or, at least, usenetworks and conducive situations to develop the idea. In thisregard, the book emphasizes on cooperation among people. Theexplanation on the farce of eureka moment and importance of errors indeveloping ideas are some of the most important aspects of the bookthat encourage people to develop ideas. The explanation gives thebook an edge over other books on creativity.
The author discusses that theglobal positioning system is a good example of factors explaining theneed for innovation. The author’s presentation of the reason forthe development of innovations is well presented by offering adifferent reason for innovations. The book explains that over time,the use of the global positioning changed and it began to be involvedin different uses. In the same regard, the provision in the bookthat the innovative ideas are usually developed for a specific use inthe society of human is agreeable since the book relates its exampleto the realities in the human society. Insofar as the book presentsits ideas in a human environment, it depicts other reasons forinnovation. In this case, due to the need of having other factorsunder control, the function of an innovative plan changes. In asituation where an individual is connected to other people, they havethe opportunity to develop new ways of approaching their ideas. Thebook encourages individuals on the need to be cooperative withothers. In this relation, the book is a motivation to the society andthe innovators about the need to innovate and cooperate with eachother. The book relates its example with common experiences thehuman beings have in daily life. The book opens up a widerperspective on explaining the market point of innovations themarkets are expected to guarantee an individual with the reward ofbeing an inventor. Furthermore, the market spurred innovation isperceived to achieve more innovation. In this regard, the book isfair to explain using the example of familiar instances such as theSoviet Union.
The book is worth, fluid,intriguing, and splendid in every right. Although it does not offeran in-depth analysis of some issues or offer a scholarly evaluation,the book reveals the hidden connections between incongruent realms,interprets ancient obscurities, and argues that all individuals haveuntapped powers. Moreover, the book shows how to turn the everydaymaterial into prized materials. The book is a dynamic, wonderful, anda subtle masterpiece, as it illustrates how ideas develop slowlybased on networks, connections, focus, and creative cultures. Assuch, the book is overly fluid, smart, and engaging without being tooarcane or scholarly. Giving the readers an ability to becomeinnovative in their lives is an important aspect conveyed by thebook. The author facilitates the readers with the thought of thembeing smart to generate ideas. It is congenial that the book providesthe necessary strategies to enable an individual to be innovative itis important that people become innovative in their lives. From this,the idea that the people are supposed to be an innovative enough ispresented in the book.
The point on individual’sdevelopment revolves around the environment that they live. Living inthe rural areas is characterized by an insufficiency of recourses andin most occasions, the people from the rural areas are notproductive. In urban areas, an individual has a variety of choicesfrom which they are given the opportunity to choose. It is true thatchange in the lives of people happens through series of steps. Inthis regard, it is true that the evolution is a slow process hencefor an individual to develop they need to undergo differentprocesses. In advancing ideas, the concept is that the plan has totake longer than the expected. It is true that for the innovation ofan object, there must be a continuous process, which takes longertime. The slowness of development programs is always the start of asuccess. In this regard, through different contributions fromdifferent people, the ability to innovate a final product becomeseasy to an innovator. The processes of discovery, invention and theprocess of practice are different (Johnson, 2010). The book isvaluable in that it is practically applicable in life situations. Inthis relation, Steven Johnson’s book is important in explaining thelife occurrences and the innovations expected n life. The bookprovides evidence that creative ideas do not just happen drasticallybut they take time. It is worth noting that although the book neitheroffers scholarly exposition nor provides comprehensive case studies,it is dynamic, insightful, refined, overly fluid, engaging, and worthto be read.
Johnson, S. (2010). Where good ideas come from: The naturalhistory of innovation. Penguin UK.