Steven Johnson

In: "Where Good Ideas Come From"

This is not the wisdom of the crowd, but the wisdom of someone in the crowd. It’s not that the network itself is smart; it’s that the individuals get smarter because they’re connected to the network.

they tend to have a high signal-to-noise ratio. But that doesn’t mean you want to cultivate those ideas in noise-free environments, because noise-free environments end up being too sterile and predictable in their output. The best innovation labs are always a little contaminated.

From an evolutionary perspective, it’s not enough to say “to err is human.” Error is what made humans possible in the first place.

In: "How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World"

When Thomas Edison completed Scott’s original project and invented the phonograph in 1877, he imagined it would regularly be used as a means of sending audio letters through the postal system. Individuals would record their missives on the phonograph’s wax scrolls, and then pop them into the mail, to be played back days later. Bell, in inventing the telephone, made what was effectively a mirror-image miscalculation: He envisioned one of the primary uses for the telephone to be as a medium for sharing live music. An orchestra or singer would sit on one end of the line, and listeners would sit back and enjoy the sound through the telephone speaker on the other. So, the two legendary inventors had it exactly reversed: people ended up using the phonograph to listen to music and using the telephone to communicate with friends.