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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, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, digital Maoism, digital map, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, 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, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Johannes Kepler, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, mass immigration, 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
You can’t tell whether Willis Carrier is an anomaly by studying the fine points of his biography. You need a wider view. So let us perform an experiment on the data available on the history of innovation. Take roughly two hundred of the most important innovations and scientific breakthroughs from the past six hundred years, starting with Gutenberg’s press: everything from Einstein’s theory of relativity to the invention of air conditioning to the birth of the World Wide Web. Plot each breakthrough somewhere in one of the four quadrants of this diagram: Classify innovations that involved a small, coordinated team within an organization—or, even better, a single inventor—as “individual.” Classify as “networked” all the innovations that evolved through collective, distributed processes, with a large number of groups working on the same problem.
The result is four quadrants: the first correlating to the private corporation or the solo entrepreneur; the second to a marketplace where multiple private firms interact; the third to the amateur scientist or hobbyist who shares his or her ideas freely; and, finally, the fourth quadrant, which corresponds to open-source or academic environments, where ideas can be built upon and reimagined in large, collaborative networks. By taking this long view, we can begin to answer the question we began with: Just how dominant is the Willis Carrier model of innovation?7 Which quadrant has the most impressive track record for generating good ideas? To give us some bearings, our anchor tenant in the first quadrant—the market-based individual—is Carrier himself, who single-handedly drove the invention of air conditioning and who had clear commercial aspirations for his device. (Gutenberg belongs there as well.) An example of a networked market innovation would be the vacuum tube, the creation of which involved a decentralized network with dozens of key participants, including Lee de Forest, almost all of whom worked either as patent-prone entrepreneurs or research scientists within larger corporations.
How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson
A. Roger Ekirch, Ada Lovelace, big-box store, British Empire, butterfly effect, clean water, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, germ theory of disease, Hans Lippershey, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, inventory management, Jacquard loom, John Snow's cholera map, Kevin Kelly, Live Aid, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, megacity, Menlo Park, Murano, Venice glass, planetary scale, refrigerator car, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, walkable city, women in the workforce
(The pendulum clock helped enable the factory towns of the industrial revolution.) Sometimes, as in the story of Gutenberg and the lens, a new innovation creates a liability or weakness in our natural toolkit, that sets us out in a new direction, generating new tools to fix a “problem” that was itself a kind of invention. Sometimes new tools reduce natural barriers and limits to human growth, the way the invention of air-conditioning enabled humans to colonize the hotspots of the planet at a scale that would have startled our ancestors just three generations ago. Sometimes the new tools influence us metaphorically, as in the robot historian’s connection between the clock and the mechanistic view of early physics, the universe imagined as a system of “cogs and wheels.” Observing hummingbird effects in history makes it clear that social transformations are not always the direct result of human agency and decision-making.
Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson
Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Book of Ingenious Devices, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, colonial exploitation, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Drosophila, Edward Thorp, Fellow of the Royal Society, game design, global village, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, HyperCard, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, land value tax, Landlord’s Game, lone genius, mass immigration, megacity, Minecraft, moral panic, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres, Necker cube, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, pets.com, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Oldenburg, spice trade, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, talking drums, the built environment, The Great Good Place, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, Victor Gruen, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, white picket fence, Whole Earth Catalog, working poor, Wunderkammern
Shopping meccas like L.A.’s Beverly Center became cultural landmarks, and the default leisure activity of hanging at the mall would define an entire generation of “Valley girls.” But as mall culture went global, Gruen’s design became increasingly prominent in the downtown centers of new megacities. Originally conceived as a way to escape the harsh winters of Minnesota, Gruen’s enclosed public space accelerated the mass migration to desert or tropical climates made possible by the invention of air-conditioning. Today, the ten largest shopping malls in the world are all located in non-U.S. or European countries with tropical or desert climates, such as China, the Philippines, Iran, and Thailand. And while the mall itself would expand in scale prodigiously—a mall in Dubai has more than one thousand stores spread out over more than five million square feet of real estate—the basic template of Gruen’s design would remain constant: two to three floors of shops surrounding an enclosed courtyard, connected by escalators.
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, Douglas Engelbart, 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, Joan Didion, John Conway, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, life extension, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, off grid, out of africa, performance metric, personalized medicine, phenotype, Picturephone, planetary scale, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, refrigerator car, Richard Florida, Rubik’s Cube, 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, wealth creators, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K
We might disagree on what exactly is sequenced, but a sequence there is. At the same time, history matters. Technological systems gain their own momentum and become so complex and self-aggregating that they form a reciprocal environment for other technologies. The infrastructure built to support the gasoline automobile is so extensive that after a century of expansion it now affects technologies outside of transportation. For instance, the invention of air-conditioning in concert with the highway system encouraged subtropical suburbs. The invention of cheap refrigerated air altered the landscape of the American South and South-west. If air-conditioning had been implemented in a nonauto society, its pattern of consequences would have been different, even though air-cooling systems contain their own technological momentum and inherencies. So every new development in the technium is contingent upon the historical antecedents of previous technologies.
The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Robert J. Gordon
"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, creative destruction, 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 sewing machine, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Markoff, 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, mass immigration, mass incarceration, 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, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, undersea cable, 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, yellow journalism, yield management
In the coal mining industry, the annual fatality rate per 100,000 miners dropped from 329 during 1911–1915 to twenty-five during 1996–1997.3 The reduction in injuries and fatalities across mining and manufacturing lifted the scourge of income loss and disability for thousands of households. Figure 15–1. Percentage of Employed Civilian Labor Force in Agricultural and Non-Agricultural Work, 1940–2012 Source: Table B-35, Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics), ratio linked back from 1940 to 1947. Just as the invention of air conditioning facilitated the flight of retirees to sunny southern destinations, so it also benefited the productivity, not to mention the comfort, of clerical and other white-collar workers. Productivity was estimated to have been raised by 25 percent among government typists during the 1950s as a result of air-conditioning, and it was rated as the chief boost to worker productivity by 90 percent of American firms in a 1957 survey.
The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett
Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, biofilm, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, discovery of penicillin, double helix, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, global village, indoor plumbing, invention of air conditioning, John Snow's cholera map, land reform, Live Aid, Louis Pasteur, Marshall McLuhan, mass incarceration, megacity, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, New Urbanism, phenotype, price mechanism, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, South China Sea, the scientific method, trade route, transfer pricing, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Zimmermann PGP
Once somebody was infected, the Legionella were tough to defeat because they were resistant to a wide spectrum of antibiotics. Air-conditioning standards changed after 1976, with federal agencies all over the world requiring far more stringent cleaning and hygiene provisions for cooling towers and large-scale air-conditioning systems. In the case of Legionella, a new human disease had emerged in 1976, brought from ancient obscurity by the modern invention of air conditioning. At the CDC’s International Legionnaires’ Disease meeting in 1978, several particularly ominous facets of the bug were scrutinized. CDC scientists revealed that the organism could be found in tap water, shower nozzles, and other allegedly clean water sources. One tap water study showed Legionella could survive over a year inside pipe biofilms, emerging in wholly infectious form once the faucet was turned on full force.