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Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson
Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, cleantech, complexity theory, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, digital Maoism, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Ernest Rutherford, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, greed is good, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invention of air conditioning, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, online collectivism, packet switching, PageRank, patent troll, pattern recognition, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, six sigma, Solar eclipse in 1919, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, urban planning
The history of being spectacularly right has a shadow history lurking behind it: a much longer history of being spectacularly wrong, again and again. And not just wrong, but messy. A shockingly large number of transformative ideas in the annals of science can be attributed to contaminated laboratory environments. Alexander Fleming famously discovered the medical virtues of penicillin when the mold accidentally infiltrated a culture of Staphylococcus he had left by an open window in his lab. In the 1830s, Louis Daguerre spent years trying to coax images out of iodized silver plates. One night, after another futile attempt, he stored the plates in a cabinet packed with chemicals; to his wonder the next morning, the fumes from a spilled jar of mercury produced a perfect image on the plate—and the daguerreotype, forerunner of modern photography, was born. In the summer of 1951, a World War II Navy veteran named Wilson Greatbatch was working at an animal behavior farm affiliated with the psychology department at Cornell, where he was studying under the G.I.
Lord Byron’s daughter Ada Lovelace wrote the first computer algorithm for the device. TELEGRAPH (1838) In an effort to improve clumsier, five-wire models of the telegraph, inventor Samuel Morse and his assistant Alfred Vail created a one-wire model that used electric signals to shift an electromagnet in a patterned print across paper, known as Morse code. PHOTOGRAPHY (1839) Most historians credit French chemist Louis Daguerre with developing the first practical photographic process, which involved fixing images on copper places covered in a chemical substance by exposing them to light. Daguerre’s’s methods were deeply influenced by the innovations of Frenchman Joseph Nicephore Niépce. VULCANIZED RUBBER (1839) After years of trial and error, Charles Goodyear discovered vulcanized rubber—which unlike natural rubber, maintained its shape despite exposure to pressure and heat—almost by accident, and fought for the rest of his life to claim royalties on the product.
Raw Data Is an Oxymoron by Lisa Gitelman
collateralized debt obligation, computer age, continuous integration, crowdsourcing, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Google Earth, Howard Rheingold, index card, informal economy, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, knowledge worker, Louis Daguerre, Menlo Park, optical character recognition, RFID, Richard Thaler, Silicon Valley, social graph, software studies, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, text mining, time value of money, trade route, Turing machine, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush
Looking at scientific atlases, not Milton poems, Daston and Galison discern the arrival of a version of objectivity that is mechanical: characterized by the observer’s restraint and distinguishable from other versions in which the skill and discernment of the observing self counts for something, such as cases in which knowledgeable observers idealize multiple, idiosyncratic specimens into a single type, or in which practiced diagnosticians exert trained judgment in order to make sense of blurry scans. Mechanical objectivity emerged as a dominant ideal in the sciences only in the middle of the nineteenth century, and it is perhaps simplest to describe it contextually with reference to the development of photography during those same years. When Louis Daguerre, Henry Fox Talbot, and others developed and then popularized the first photographic processes, observers were struck by the apparent displacement of human agency in the production of lifelike images. Fox Talbot’s lavish account of his calotype process captures this displacement in its title, The Pencil of Nature. No artist necessary. Light itself is enough. Photography is objective. David Ribes and Steven Jackson (chapter 8) direct attention toward some of the difficulties that mechanical objectivity presents today in scientific practice, when biologists rely upon data collected by remote sensors.
Brewster Kahle, Cass Sunstein, future of journalism, George Akerlof, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet Archive, invention of the printing press, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Louis Daguerre, new economy, prediction markets, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, software patent, transaction costs
To artists generally, whether affiliated with the Met or not? To musicians generally, whether white or not? To filmmakers generally, whether affiliated with a studio or not? Free cultures are cultures that leave a great deal open for others to build upon; unfree, or permission, cultures leave much less. Ours was a free culture. It is becoming much less so. Chapter 2 "Mere Copyists" In 1839, Louis Daguerre invented the first practical technology for producing what we would call "photographs." Appropriately enough, they were called "daguerreotypes." The process was complicated and expensive, and the field was thus limited to professionals and a few zealous and wealthy amateurs. (There was even an American Daguerre Association that helped regulate the industry, as do all such associations, by keeping competition down so as to keep prices up.)
What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly
Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, c2.com, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, charter city, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, computer vision, Danny Hillis, dematerialisation, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, George Gilder, gravity well, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, invention of air conditioning, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John Conway, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, life extension, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, out of africa, performance metric, personalized medicine, phenotype, Picturephone, planetary scale, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, refrigerator car, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, Skype, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K
We know of six different inventors of the thermometer, and three of the hypodermic needle. Edward Jenner was preceded by four other scientists who all independently discovered the efficacy of vaccinations. Adrenaline was “first” isolated four times. Three different geniuses discovered (or invented) decimal fractions. The electric telegraph was reinvented by Joseph Henry, Samuel Morse, William Cooke, Charles Wheatstone, and Karl Steinheil. The Frenchman Louis Daguerre is famous for inventing photography, but three others (Nicephore Niepce, Hercules Florence, and William Henry Fox Talbot) also independently came upon the same process. The invention of logarithms is usually credited to two mathematicians, John Napier and Henry Briggs, but actually a third one, Joost Burgi, invented them three years earlier. Several inventors in both England and America simultaneously came up with the typewriter.
Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold
Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Eratosthenes, Grace Hopper, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Louis Daguerre, millennium bug, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, popular electronics, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture
And in 1791, Mozart completed The Magic Flute, his last opera, and died later that year at the age of 35. Morse was educated at Yale and studied art in London. He became a successful portrait artist. His painting General Lafayette (1825) hangs in New York's City Hall. In 1836, he ran for mayor of New York City on an independent ticket and received 5.7 percent of the vote. He was also an early photography buff. Morse learned how to make daguerreotype photographs from Louis Daguerre himself and made some of the first daguerreotypes in America. In 1840, he taught the process to the 17-year-old Mathew Brady, who with his colleagues would be responsible for creating the most memorable photographs of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, and Samuel Morse himself. But these are just footnotes to an eclectic career. Samuel F. B. Morse is best known these days for his invention of the telegraph and the code that bears his name.
Big Bang by Simon Singh
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Astronomia nova, Brownian motion, carbon-based life, Cepheid variable, Chance favours the prepared mind, Commentariolus, Copley Medal, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Defenestration of Prague, discovery of penicillin, Dmitri Mendeleev, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Freundlich, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Hans Lippershey, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, horn antenna, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Karl Jansky, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, Olbers’ paradox, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Paul Erdős, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, scientific mainstream, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbiased observer, V2 rocket, Wilhelm Olbers, William of Occam
However, one problem plagued the study of Cepheids, namely subjectivity. Indeed, this major problem was common throughout astronomy. If observers saw something in the sky, they would inevitably interpret it with some level of bias, especially if the phenomenon was fleeting and the interpretation relied on memory. Also, the observation could only be recorded in words or a sketch, neither of which could be relied upon for perfect accuracy. Then, in 1839, Louis Daguerre released details of the daguerreotype, a process for chemically imprinting an image on a metal plate. Suddenly, daguerreomania swept the world, with people queuing up to be photographed. As with every new technology, there were some critics, as demonstrated by this extract from the Leipzig City Advertiser : ‘The wish to capture evanescent reflections is not only impossible … but the mere desire alone, the will to do so, is blasphemy.
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick
Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, bank run, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, citation needed, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Simon Singh, Socratic dialogue, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, talking drums, the High Line, The Wisdom of Crowds, transcontinental railway, Turing machine, Turing test, women in the workforce
The phonograph, impressing sound into foil or wax, had yet to be invented, but Babbage could view the atmosphere as an engine of motion with meaning: “every atom impressed with good and with ill … which philosophers and sages have imparted to it, mixed and combined in ten thousand ways with all that is worthless and base.” Every word ever said, whether heard by a hundred listeners or none, far from having vanished into the air, leaves its indelible mark, the complete record of human utterance being encrypted by the laws of motion and capable, in theory, of being recovered—given enough computing power. This was overoptimistic. Still, the same year Babbage published his essay, the artist and chemist Louis Daguerre in Paris perfected his means of capturing visual images on silver-coated plates. His English competitor, William Fox Talbot, called this “the art of photogenic drawing, or of forming pictures and images of natural objects by means of solar light.”♦ Talbot saw something meme-like. “By means of this contrivance,” he wrote, “it is not the artist who makes the picture, but the picture which makes itself.”
3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yield management
THE MOTION PICTURE FROM THE NICKELODEON TO GONE WITH THE WIND The history of the motion picture begins with the still photo, going back to Aristotle’s first observations about the laws of optics around 330 BC and to the invention of the pinhole camera (camera obscura) by an Arab around AD 1000. Until the 1820s, however, there was no way to preserve the images that emerged from the pinhole. The daguerreotype, invented in 1839 by Louis Daguerre, was the first process that allowed a permanent image to be created, and soon afterward, in 1841, the Englishman Henry Fox Talbot developed a method for making a negative from which multiple positive prints could be made. However, these early processes were clumsy and relied on wet plate negatives that had to be developed quickly after the photograph was taken, in practice requiring the photographer to carry a darkroom along with him.