Idea Book

In his mind-opening new book, Where Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson explores the seeds of innovation.
By Parul Sehgal, Publishers Weekly Sep 27, 2010

E-books have found themselves a passionate and articulate champion in Steven Johnson, the bestselling author of Everything Bad Is Good for YouThe Ghost Map, and The Invention of Air.

As he wrote in the Wall Street Journal, books’ migration to the digital realm is “not a simple matter of trading ink for pixels”—e-books are going to radically change the “core attributes that we have associated with book reading for more than 500 years.” Reading won’t necessarily be immersive and solitary—it might be dizzyingly social and rapidly interrupted. We might read books as we do articles on the Web, in fits and starts, now rapt, now distracted, now moving on to something else entirely.

Johnson’s approach is as distinctive in its unsentimentality as in its copiousness—books, he reminds us, are but one vessel for ideas and information, and have been too long the hermetically sealed bystanders of the infosphere’s merry hyperlinked connectedness. The e-book revolution will allow us to harness this “vast trove of knowledge” on an unprecedented scale, and with each word searchable, there is peerless potential for creating new forms of scholarship and “new forms of discovery.”
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