This book is summarized on page 41, “What kind of environment creates good ideas? the simplest way to answer it is this: innovative environments are better at helping their inhabitants explore the adjacent possible, because they expose a wide and diverse sample of spare parts—mechanical or conceptual—and they encourage novel ways of recombining those parts. Environments that block or limit those new combinations—by punishing experimentation, by obscuring certain branches of possibility, by making the current state so satisfying that no one bothers to explore the edges—will, on average, generate and circulate fewer innovations than environments that encourage exploration.”

I had a quibble with the book in Johnson’s dating of the creation of the terrestrial globe in 1492 — “The Nuremberg based mapmaker Martin Behaim constructed the first terrestrial globe in the early 1490s, after returning from extensive journeys in West Africa. He called it the Erdapfel, which translates to “earth apple.” (p. 252) I believe that I demonstrated the Classic Greeks made an earth globe and that a mosaic of one was buried in the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD.

The Seven Sages of Greece mosaic

This is the basic picture of the 7 Sages of Greece for linking the Roman Empire.

These Greeks created geometry, which means earth-measuring, and the picture above shows these men, known as the Seven Sages, discussing that globe. Notice that it has latitude and longitude lines drawn on the globe. I wrote several posts showing that the key geographical points of the Roman Empire at that time are hidden in plain sight in this mosaic. Click on the links to the Intriguing lines on the Seven Sages of Greece mosaic and it becomes obvious that the Romans knew the shape and size of the Earth.

Where Good Ideas Come From (2010) by Steven Johnson is well researched, but it has a poor method of indexing citations, so it was difficult to check for sources. For example, try to find, even with a Google search, the famous line, “lay up a fund of knowledge, from which we may at all times select what is useful in the several pursuits of life,” p.84. The book has many suggestions, but it boils down to …

If you want to innovate in any field, get intimately involved with the most innovative people in that field.