Steven Johnson - Bio and Creative Works

Steven Johnson

JOURNALIST • WRITER
Born
1968-06-06
Age
54
Citizenship
United States of America
Place of Birth
Washington, D.C.
Bio

Steven Berlin Johnson is an American popular science author and media theorist. - Wikipedia

Select Creative Works

BOOK • 2021

by Steven Johnson

BOOK • 2018

by Steven Johnson

The hardest choices are also the most consequential. So why do we know so little about how to get them right?

Big, life-altering decisions matter so much more than the decisions we make every day, and they're also the most difficult: where to live, whom to marry, what to believe, whether to start a company, how to end a war. There's no one-size-fits-all approach for addressing these kinds of conundrums.

Steven Johnson's classic Where Good Ideas Come From inspired creative people all over the world with new ways of thinking about innovation. In Farsighted, he uncovers powerful tools for honing the important skill of complex decision-making. While you can't model a once-in-a-lifetime choice, you can model the deliberative tactics of expert decision-makers. These experts aren't just the master strategists running major companies or negotiating high-level diplomacy. They're the novelists who draw out the complexity of their characters' inner lives, the city officials who secure long-term water supplies, and the scientists who reckon with future challenges most of us haven't even imagined. The smartest decision-makers don't go with their guts. Their success relies on having a future-oriented approach and the ability to consider all their options in a creative, productive way.

Through compelling stories that reveal surprising insights, Johnson explains how we can most effectively approach the choices that can chart the course of a life, an organization, or a civilization. Farsighted will help you imagine your possible futures and appreciate the subtle intelligence of the choices that shaped our broader social history.

BOOK • 2014

by Steven Johnson

From the New York Times–bestselling author of Where Good Ideas Come From and Unexpected Life, a new look at the power and legacy of great ideas.

In this illustrated history, Steven Johnson explores the history of innovation over centuries, tracing facets of modern life (refrigeration, clocks, and eyeglass lenses, to name a few) from their creation by hobbyists, amateurs, and entrepreneurs to their unintended historical consequences. Filled with surprising stories of accidental genius and brilliant mistakes—from the French publisher who invented the phonograph before Edison but forgot to include playback, to the Hollywood movie star who helped invent the technology behind Wi-Fi and Bluetooth—How We Got to Now investigates the secret history behind the everyday objects of contemporary life.
 
In his trademark style, Johnson examines unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated fields: how the invention of air-conditioning enabled the largest migration of human beings in the history of the species—to cities such as Dubai or Phoenix, which would otherwise be virtually uninhabitable; how pendulum clocks helped trigger the industrial revolution; and how clean water made it possible to manufacture computer chips. Accompanied by a major six-part television series on PBS, How We Got to Now is the story of collaborative networks building the modern world, written in the provocative, informative, and engaging style that has earned Johnson fans around the globe.

BOOK • 2014

by Steven Johnson

“A house of wonders itself. . . . Wonderland inspires grins and well-what-d'ya-knows” —The New York Times Book Review

From the New York Times–bestselling author of How We Got to Now and Extra Life, a look at the world-changing innovations we made while keeping ourselves entertained.


This lushly illustrated history of popular entertainment takes a long-zoom approach, contending that the pursuit of novelty and wonder is a powerful driver of world-shaping technological change. Steven Johnson argues that, throughout history, the cutting edge of innovation lies wherever people are working the hardest to keep themselves and others amused. 
 
Johnson’s storytelling is just as delightful as the inventions he describes, full of surprising stops along the journey from simple concepts to complex modern systems. He introduces us to the colorful innovators of leisure: the explorers, proprietors, showmen, and artists who changed the trajectory of history with their luxurious wares, exotic meals, taverns, gambling tables, and magic shows.  
 
In Wonderland, Johnson compellingly argues that observers of technological and social trends should be looking for clues in novel amusements. You’ll find the future wherever people are having the most fun.

BOOK • 2013

by Steven Johnson

From the New York Times bestselling author of How We Got To Now and Farsighted

Combining the deft social analysis of Where Good Ideas Come From with the optimistic arguments of Everything Bad Is Good for You, bestselling author and one of the most inspiring visionaries of contemporary culture, Steven Johnson, maps the ways a connected world will be both different and better.

 
Steven Johnson proposes that a new model of political change is on the rise transforming everything from local government to classrooms to health care. It’s a compelling new political worldview that breaks with traditional categories of liberal or conservative thinking. Johnson explores this innovative vision through a series of fascinating narratives: from the “Miracle on the Hudson” to the planning of the French railway system; from the battle against malnutrition in Vietnam to a mysterious outbreak of strange smells in downtown Manhattan; from underground music video artists to the invention of the Internet itself. At a time when the conventional wisdom holds that the political system is hopelessly gridlocked with old ideas, Future Perfect makes the timely and uplifting case that progress is still possible.

BOOK • 2010

by Steven Johnson

A fascinating deep dive on innovation from the New York Times bestselling author of How We Got To Now and Unexpected Life

The printing press, the pencil, the flush toilet, the battery--these are all great ideas. But where do they come from? What kind of environment breeds them? What sparks the flash of brilliance? How do we generate the breakthrough technologies that push forward our lives, our society, our culture? Steven Johnson's answers are revelatory as he identifies the seven key patterns behind genuine innovation, and traces them across time and disciplines. From Darwin and Freud to the halls of Google and Apple, Johnson investigates the innovation hubs throughout modern time and pulls out the approaches and commonalities that seem to appear at moments of originality.

BOOK • 2006

by Steven Johnson

A National Bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book, and an Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Year from the author of Extra Life
 
“By turns a medical thriller, detective story, and paean to city life, Johnson's account of the outbreak and its modern implications is a true page-turner.” —The Washington Post

“Thought-provoking.” —Entertainment Weekly


It's the summer of 1854, and London is just emerging as one of the first modern cities in the world. But lacking the infrastructure-garbage removal, clean water, sewers-necessary to support its rapidly expanding population, the city has become the perfect breeding ground for a terrifying disease no one knows how to cure. As the cholera outbreak takes hold, a physician and a local curate are spurred to action-and ultimately solve the most pressing medical riddle of their time.

In a triumph of multidisciplinary thinking, Johnson illuminates the intertwined histories of the spread of disease, the rise of cities, and the nature of scientific inquiry, offering both a riveting history and a powerful explanation of how it has shaped the world we live in.

BOOK • 2005

by Steven Johnson

From the New York Times bestselling author of How We Got To Now and Farsighted

Forget everything you’ve ever read about the age of dumbed-down, instant-gratification culture. In this provocative, unfailingly intelligent, thoroughly researched, and surprisingly convincing big idea book, Steven Johnson draws from fields as diverse as neuroscience, economics, and media theory to argue that the pop culture we soak in every day—from Lord of the Rings to Grand Theft Auto to The Simpsons—has been growing more sophisticated with each passing year, and, far from rotting our brains, is actually posing new cognitive challenges that are actually making our minds measurably sharper. After reading Everything Bad is Good for You, you will never regard the glow of the video game or television screen the same way again.With a new afterword by the author.


BOOK • 2004

by Steven Johnson

In this nationally bestselling, compulsively readable account of what makes brain science a vital component of people's quest to know themselves, acclaimed science writer Steven Johnson subjects his own brain to a battery of tests to find out what's really going on inside. He asks:

  • How do we "read" other people?

  • What is the neurochemistry behind love and sex?

  • What does it mean that the brain is teeming with powerful chemicals closely related to recreational drugs?

  • Why does music move us to tears?

  • Where do breakthrough ideas come from?

Johnson answers these and many more questions arising from the events of our everyday lives. You do not have to be a neuroscientist to wonder, for example, why do you smile? And why do you sometimes smile inappropriately, even if you don't want to? How do others read your inappropriate smile? How does such interplay occur neurochemically, and what, if anything, can you do about it?
Fascinating and rewarding, Mind Wide Open speaks to brain buffs, self-obsessed neurotics, barstool psychologists, mystified parents, grumpy spouses, exasperated managers, and anyone who enjoys speculating and gossiping about the motivations and behaviors of other human beings. Steven Johnson shows us the transformative power of understanding brain science and offers new modes of introspection and tools for better parenting, better relationships, and better living.

BOOK • 2001

by Steven Johnson

In the tradition of Being Digital and The Tipping Point, Steven Johnson, acclaimed as a "cultural critic with a poet's heart" (The Village Voice), takes readers on an eye-opening journey through emergence theory and its applications.

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
A VOICE LITERARY SUPPLEMENT TOP 25 FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
AN ESQUIRE MAGAZINE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

Explaining why the whole is sometimes smarter than the sum of its parts, Johnson presents surprising examples of feedback, self-organization, and adaptive learning. How does a lively neighborhood evolve out of a disconnected group of shopkeepers, bartenders, and real estate developers? How does a media event take on a life of its own? How will new software programs create an intelligent World Wide Web?

In the coming years, the power of self-organization -- coupled with the connective technology of the Internet -- will usher in a revolution every bit as significant as the introduction of electricity. Provocative and engaging, Emergence puts you on the front lines of this exciting upheaval in science and thought.

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