In this book, the author Steven Johnson, argues that innovative ideas come from the environments that support free thinking and cross-disciplinary cooperation and knowledge exchange. Sure, no one can seriously dispute these assertions. Do we need to read this book to know this? Not really.
In general, the author's writing style reminded me books by Malcolm Gladwell. In both cases the authors literally are cherry picking data that better fit their arguments. They never bother to discuss opposite views or counter arguments.
For example, here the author argues that cooperation is important for good ideas but provides examples that goes against it, such as Charles Darwin's work on origin of species or invention of Internet by CERN scientist. In both cases ideas were crystallized in total solitary mode.
Similarly, the author argues that Big cities produce more inventions. However, it is not clear whether this is a simply quantitative effect. Also, the author fails to discuss whether every Big city produces similar number of inventions, or some cities are better than others.
Finally, the author does not articulate clearly the conditions that could foster innovations (beyond cliche ideas about office design that in my opinion rather helps to foster common gossip than innovation in an ordinary sense).
Good ideas clearly don't come from this book.
posted by David UsharauliTweet