Steven Berlin Johnson

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Anatomy Of An Idea

Steven Berlin Johnson

People often ask me about my research techniques. You would think this would be a relatively straightforward question, but the truth is that I have to keep changing my answer, because my techniques are constantly shifting as new forms of search or discovery become possible. In the meantime, I was continuing to devour Seeing Like A State.

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Introducing Findings

Steven Berlin Johnson

I have been dreaming about new tools that would help me capture what I was reading for almost as long I have been reading. We got to talking over lunch about our shared obsession with research and annotation tools. This was somewhere post-Friendster but pre-Twitter, so the idea of making these systems more social was very much in the air.

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Thoughts on Steve Jobs, The Book

Steven Berlin Johnson

I just finished reading Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography on the flight back to SFO a few minutes ago, and wanted to jot down a few responses while they were fresh in my head. It's a very subtle book, admirable in its restraint, I think. Which, I think, is what most of us want to read right now. Also: the guy took a lot of walks. Web/Tech

How We Got To Now

Steven Berlin Johnson

It’s been killing me not being able to post anything about it here or on Twitter, but as of this morning, the cat is finally out of the bag.

Where Good Ideas Come From

Steven Berlin Johnson

On Friday, I got the galley copies of my new book, to be published in early October. It’s a book, in other words, about the space of creativity.

Introducing Future Perfect

Steven Berlin Johnson

In the spring of 2001, I was finishing up the final chapter of my second book, Emergence: The Connected Lives Of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software. Emergence was not explicitly a book about politics or social movements, but I wanted to end it with a hint of those possibilities. That is the iconography of an earlier model of protest. Books

Babble Joins Disney

Steven Berlin Johnson

On Tuesday morning, Disney announced that it had acquired the parenting site, Babble,com , which was founded a few years ago by my old friends Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman. But my own interests aside, I think this acquisition is an encouraging -- and important -- sign for more than just the people involved in creating the site. .

The Innovator's Cookbook

Steven Berlin Johnson

This happens to be one of things that I love about my job.) But it also occurred to me that we could do more than just a straight collection of essays.

How We Got To Now, the Book

Steven Berlin Johnson

Last Tuesday was the publication date for How We Got To Now: Six Innovations That Made The Modern World. It has been a busy week!

Wonderland, the book (and podcast!)

Steven Berlin Johnson

I’m very excited to announce my next book — Wonderland: How Play Made The Modern World , to be published in November by my long-time publisher Riverhead Books. The book is in many ways a sequel to How We Got To Now, though it also has some thematic links that connect it back to Everything Bad Is Good For You.

What Peer Progressives Really Believe

Steven Berlin Johnson

If you have patience for this kind of online debate, The New Republic is now running my extended response to Evgeny Morozov's review (along with a new response from him). It cites a number of the misleading or innacurate quotes that I reviewed yesterday, but the key passages come at the end. It’s simply a question of emphasis.

Tilting At Windmills, The Internet Edition

Steven Berlin Johnson

Evgeny Morozov has written a long and entertaining critique of my book Future Perfect in last week’s issue of The New Republic. think that gives the best sense of how much Morozov has to ignore or distort in the book to make his argument stick. Me: No doubt there will be places where the [non-hierarchical] approach turns out to be less effective.

Eno On Innovation In The Studio

Steven Berlin Johnson

The Innovator’s Cookbook , new on the shelves this month, features a number of conversations with creative minds from technology, business, education and the arts, talking about their methods. What strategies have you developed in that kind of context? Because that person is not part of the political/diplomatic situation within the band itself.

Bill Clinton On "Creative Networks of Collaboration"

Steven Berlin Johnson

Yesterday marked the opening day of the Clinton Foundation’s “Health Matters” conference in Palm Springs. I had heard a bit of advance word about the conference from a friend who was headed down there, and I had armed him with a copy of Future Perfect to give to Clinton if the opportunity arose. But the gift turned out to be unnecessary.

AOL Acquires Outside.in

Steven Berlin Johnson

Almost exactly five years ago, I went out to lunch with my old friends Mark Bailey and Andy Karsch, and somehow over the course of our meal I got to talking about this idea I'd been harboring for several months about building some sort of web service that would organize local bloggers by neighborhood and zip code. So this is a new thing for me.

Good Ideas, The Four-Minute Version

Steven Berlin Johnson

But the absolutely brilliant video they produced with Cognitive Media in the UK shows how wrong I was. But there's always the paperback!).

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What Jelly Means

Steven Berlin Johnson

A few months ago, I found this strange white mold growing in my garden in California. I’m a novice gardener, and to make matters worse, a novice Californian, so I had no idea what these small white cells might portend for my flowers. . could go on Quora, or a gardening site. . The service launches today with apps on iOS and Android. How can I help?”.

Old Growth Media And The Future Of News

Steven Berlin Johnson

That kid was me. wish I could tell you that I was making those compulsive return visits out of a passionate love of books. You read MacWorld.

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The GovLab

Steven Berlin Johnson

million.) Based on its success in reducing the backlog (now down to 600,000 applications) and expanding the range of discovery, the U.S. patent office last year launched a full-scale version, "Patent Exchange," that allows citizens to participate in every patent under review. Pilots of Peer-to-Patent have also been launched in the U.K.,

A Quick Roundup Of Future Perfect News

Steven Berlin Johnson

I've tried to capture at least some of this on Twitter, but I finally got some time this morning to put it all in one place. Books

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Findings Is Hiring

Steven Berlin Johnson

But for now, I wanted to say that we are hiring -- looking for both a Python and Interface Engineer. If you're interested in the future of text, social reading, ebooks, and serendipitous discovery, this is a great project to get involved with, working in a dynamic and fun office with the rest of the Betaworks crew in Manhattan.

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stevenberlinjohnson.com: The Invention Of Air

Steven Berlin Johnson

Ray Ozzie on Lotus Notes and Slow Hunch Innovation

Steven Berlin Johnson

[More in the series of excerpts from the conversations in my new collection, The Innovator's Cookbook. This is part of my exchange with the brilliant Ray Ozzie, who recently stepped down as Microsoft's Chief Software Architect. SJ: How did the idea for Lotus Notes come about? It became an itch that we needed to scratch. But it’s a good thing!

Driven or Distracted?

Steven Berlin Johnson

Back in April of this year, I put up a post with a simple question: Why Doesn’t Facebook Look Like This ? They look like New Twitter !

Tour Dates for "Where Good Ideas Come From"

Steven Berlin Johnson

The folks at Riverhead have put together a great tour for Where Good Ideas Come From. It's going to be a busy October, but it should also be a lot of fun. Here are the details for now; I will update as new events get added. Washington, D.C. Tuesday, October 5, 7:00 PM. Politics & Prose. 5015 Connecticut Ave NW. Washington, DC 20008. 98104.

Is Steve Jobs Repeating His Past Mistakes?

Steven Berlin Johnson

One of my very favorite writers, Robert Wright, had an interesting Opinionator post at the NY Times site this week, which revolved around the question of Steve Jobs' alleged lust for power and why he was making the same mistakes with the iPhone that led to the Mac losing out to Microsoft in the late 1980s. And so on. And then he got fired.

More On The Shallows

Steven Berlin Johnson

In today's New York Times I have an essay responding to Nicholas Carr's new book, The Shallows. While I disagree with the overarching conclusions of Nick's book, it's a great read and wonderfully written, with many fascinating detours through the history of media and technology.  I encourage everyone to pick it up.

Deep Structure

Steven Berlin Johnson

If there's one thing I'm known for as a writer, it's my habit of writing across disciplines, connecting multiple fields in a single book or narrative. But the truth is I haven't written a truly multi-disciplinary book for nearly ten years, since my second book, Emergence. But Where Good Ideas Come From has no equivalent anchor or home field.

Me On Twitter On TIME On Twitter

Steven Berlin Johnson

This week's cover of TIME features a story that I wrote about Twitter and innovation.

Tools For New Thoughts: A Special Webinar For "Early Adopters" Of My Book

Steven Berlin Johnson

Where Good Ideas Come From is an idea book about the history of ideas, but I have always thought of it as a book that would have real practical value as well. Yet there’s much more to be said about this topic. To reserve a space for the Webinar please complete the form below with your pre-order details before next Thursday, September 30th. Loading.

stevenberlinjohnson.com: The Shanghai Surprise: Urban Planning Is Sexy!

Steven Berlin Johnson

I'm writing this on the plane flying back after a ten day trip circumnavigating the globe.

A Theoretical Education

Steven Berlin Johnson

A month or two ago, the Times Book Review asked me to write a short essay on my experience majoring in Semiotics at Brown, prompted in part by Jeffrey Eugenides' new book, The Marriage Plot, which features a number of scenes in Brown Semiotics classrooms in its opening pages. But I also wanted to document the bizarre effect it had on my prose style.

Future Perfect Tour

Steven Berlin Johnson

Here's the latest schedule for my Future Perfect appearances. Hope some of you can come out. In the spirit of a book about collaboration, many of these events are actual conversations with other people, not just me rambling onstage by myself, so that should be extra incentive for folks to show up. Tuesday, September 18 -- MARIN. 7:00 PM. 30-9:00 PM.

stevenberlinjohnson.com: Can We Please Kill This Meme Now

Steven Berlin Johnson

Jason linked to this op-ed on the "endangered joy of serendipity": Serendipity is defined as the ability to make fortunate discoveries accidentally. There's so much of modern life that makes it preferable to the vaunted good old days

What Does "Generative" Mean Anyway?

Steven Berlin Johnson

Today's Sunday New York Times included a column of mine in the business section which tried to think about the App Store's tremendous rate of innovation over the past two years, and the clear benefit it has had for small developers. So here we are. But I don't think the two are synonymous. Or at least I don't think they should be synonymous.

Good Ideas Year-End Wrap

Steven Berlin Johnson

It's New Year's eve, and I'm up in the mountains of northern Vermont, skiing for the first time in more than two decades. It was the most hectic tour I've done to date, but also the most fun and the most rewarding, thanks to all the great conversations I had along the way. Books

First reviews for Future Perfect

Steven Berlin Johnson

Full review here.) The Kirkus review is not online yet, but they call it a "thought-provoking, hope-inspiring manifesto."

stevenberlinjohnson.com: Literary Style By The Numbers

Steven Berlin Johnson

This may be old news to some of you, but I just noticed the other day that Amazon has added a whole panel of "text stats" for many of its books.

Thoughts On The New Kindle

Steven Berlin Johnson

I got my first I got my first Kindle last week, and have been toying around with it a little ever since. It is a very provocative little device, one of those technologies that--for all its imperfections--makes you realize that a whole new set of possibilities are just around the corner. I'm not crazy about the e-ink screen. Wicked cool.

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stevenberlinjohnson.com: Why The Web Is Like A Rain Forest

Steven Berlin Johnson

Why The Web Is Like A Rain Forest. The latest issue of Discover on the stands is their 25th anniversary issue, and so for my column this month my wonderful editor Dave Grogan asked me to do a kind of "state of the internet" piece