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Seven Patterns that Changed the World 

Wednesday, Sep 29 2010
What does the invention of the Gutenberg press have in common with the ascendance of Google Inc. and Web 2.0? Would a different way of thinking have helped the FBI spot and head off the 9/11 terrorist attacks? Steven Johnson says he knows. In Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, Johnson looks at thinking patterns across the ages and identifies seven that recur when ground-breaking ideas happen. These include scenarios that sound farther reaching – such as “the slow hunch” and “liquid networks” – as well as pretty simple ones – such as “serendipity” and “error.” Johnson says the more we embrace these patterns in our personal as well as professional lives, the better we’ll be at innovative thinking. Going back to the big guys such as Gutenberg or the Google founders, Johnson says the question isn’t so much how these people got to be so smart, but rather, what kind of conditions foster innovation as groundbreaking as theirs? Johnson’s previous books include Everything Bad is Good for You and the Invention of Air. He writes for writes for Time, Wired, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m., 2010

About The Author

Keith Bowers


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