Genetic Fingerprinting Solving Cases

I found Alec Jeffery’s discovery of genetic fingerprinting very interesting and of course it has been very useful in solving crimes since its birth.  At this point in the book, Paul has been convicted for the sexual act against Helena Greenwood, but the fact that 14% of the total population had the same matching secretion as the semen left behind on her pillowcase makes the case a little less certain.  Paul’s attorney desperately tried to argue, even though his client matched, that 14% of the people in the area is a large number of possible offenders.  If genetic fingerprinting were to be used, prosecutors could tell for certain if the semen left at the scene of the crime was in fact Paul’s.  The same way that Colin Pitchfork was convicted for his brutal double rape and homicides, Paul could definitely revealed as the culprit.  This type of DNA analysis could also be used to find Helena’s killer.  Below is a link to an article that highlights an interview that Alec Jeffery participated in.  Jeffery’s discovery all the way back in 1984 is discussed.     

Genetic Fingerprinting Solving Cases

Where Good Ideas Come From: A Method to the Madness of Innovation?

In Steven Johnson’s book, Where Good Ideas Come From, readers are able to get a glimpse into the process of creating major innovations. Johnson has already established himself as an insightful and creative author with his other books like The Ghost Map, which looks into the spread and cure of cholera in London. In each of his books, Johnson explains complicated concepts in a novel and simple way, allowing contemporary readers to understand the points he is trying to make. This book is no exception, with each chapter illuminating a different quality of the ideal idea-making process. To prove his points, Johnson uses a myriad of examples of innovation ranging from lone inventors to the exploits of coral reefs to the creation of the very first computers. Through each example in his novel, Johnson shows his idea-making concepts at work in real life. Continue reading “Where Good Ideas Come From: A Method to the Madness of Innovation?”

Where Good Ideas Come From: A Method to the Madness of Innovation?

Book Review: Where Good Ideas Come From

Theoretical and Evolutional Networking Connections

Our physical, emotional and mentally evolving universe has many known limitations in fields of chemistry, biology, biotechnology and innovative sciences overall. These limitations are nothing but mental barriers that are bound to be overcame using the basis of innovation that our great ancestors founded many years ago. Where Good Ideas Come From written by Steven Johnson makes clear and somewhat short the long and tedious step-by-step process in which innovation progressed. In this science related nonfiction piece, Steve Johnson, a formidable writer and historian, talks about the different variations of ways in which ideas come to be, how they are/were implemented, the best ways these ideas can come to surface and how they contribute to the overall spectrum of innovative thinking. This writing contains a wealth of information relative to what everything is today and how it came to be, thus making it relevant and interesting to audiences of all sorts. Continue reading “Book Review: Where Good Ideas Come From”

Book Review: Where Good Ideas Come From

Where Good Books Come From

Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From will walk you through how the greatest thinkers form their ideas. In fact, his book explains in depth to you exactly what the subtitle says, “The Natural History of Innovation.” Johnson’s extensive experience of technological progress shows itself inside his chapters as he fully explains his main idea of the “slow hunch” by examining hunches like “a plot involving multiple radical Islamic fundamentalists” and how different ideas about how to identify these men are more successful than others (74). By using several other microcosms like that throughout his book Johnson incorporates his knowledge about how science has progressed in a way that is engaging and fast paced. Johnson’s goal is to show us how great ideas form, and where, like how “a metropolis with a population of five million people was almost three times more creative than the average resident of a town of a hundred thousand (11). His writing is full of interesting facts such as this. As a nonfiction book, Johnson presents historical evidence in support of his analysis of how the many great ideas in science have formed. His writing is both informative and entertaining, chock full of behind the scenes looks about great scientists like Charles Darwin and how they came to the realization of their great ideas. Our society is pushed forward by great inventions like the printing press and by revolutionary ideas like the punnett square. Johnson breaks down the process of these discoveries and finds a system that identifies the keys to forming a great hunch. This system proves in fact, where good ideas come from. Continue reading “Where Good Books Come From”

Where Good Books Come From

Blood Types

He analyzed the different reactions, and came to the conclusion that blood could be broken down into four groups (now known as A, B, AB, O,”-Weinberg (51).

Today we do not think twice when we learn what our blood type is or need blood and receive some from the same blood type.  This classification of blood types went on to become very important in the world of criminology because it allows prosecutors to get that much more specific in identifying a criminal.  One thing that stuck me about the discovery about blood types is how long it took for the find to get the recognition it deserved.  When Paul Uhlenhuth, in 1900, found out that blood could in fact be analyzed to see if it is from a human, the world of prosecutors jumped on the idea with great interest.  When Karl Landsteiner discovered the different types of blood his work wasn’t properly praised until around 20 years after the initial finding in 1901.  Why was this finding viewed as not as important as Uhlenhuth’s?

Blood Types

Platforms vs Patents 2

Reading this chapter made me think of the issue with patents discussed in class a while ago, and gives me a remembrance of the question if patents are more effective than platforms. Mendel did not receive any recognition for his work, this surely was an annoyance for him. Do you think if his work was patented and he got all the credit for his work, it would have had an effect on others implementing his work because they knew it was his. His work was ultimately a platform because even though it was his idea, others were able to feed off of it legally.

Platforms vs Patents 2

Scientists Can Be Wrong

“the majority of geneticists were still concentrating on protein at the time, and were apparently loath to abandon something into which they had poured so much time and intellectual energy” (Weinberg 34)

This one belief could be one of the most frustrating part of science: scientists are stubborn enough to work on something for years even if they know it is leading to know where. This is across all fields of study, scientists who have poured their lives into an idea that will never come to fruition because it is just not right. I have always wondered how many countless technologies and theories have been struck down simply on the belief of a majority of scientists that your idea is wrong; just because a majority of scientists believe something, does not mean it is right, for 50 years before inflation theory was discovered, scientists believed that the universe was constant, Einstein himself believed this.

 

Scientists Can Be Wrong

A True Eureka Moment

“Miraculously, everything then fell into shape. Crick saw it and no matter how hard he tried, could not come up with a reason why it should not be the solution.
‘From the start we hoped for some chemical revelation that would lead to the correct structure,’ Waston wrote. ‘But we never anticipated that the answer would come so suddenly in one swoop and with such finality.
It was a true Eureka moment.” -Weinberg, pg 38-39

This section grabbed my attention immediately. After reading Johnson’s book, we learned that true ‘Eureka moments’ are much rarer than they’re made out to be. Watson and Crick are portrayed as almost overconfident in their intelligence and their abilities; it’s understandable that Watson wanted it to seem as though the answer to their DNA problem came to them so quickly.
But if we look at the rest of the chapter, we can see that their discovery wasn’t really a Eureka moment after all. Like many good ideas, it was a matter of finding and combining all the right pieces, such as the work of their colleagues before them. It was in part because of a hunch that Watson and Crick had, the idea that DNA was likely a helix structure.
The revelation that DNA is a double helix did not come to Watson and Crick all at once; it was a problem that both of them thought about for a long time, gathering bits and pieces of information that would eventually come together and lead them to the answer.

A True Eureka Moment

Ideas Helped by a Collective Process?

One thing that struck me while I was reading this particular chapter was how many scientists and people contributed to uncovering much of the mystery of DNA.  I firmly believe that without any one of these intellectuals, we would not have the knowledge on DNA that we have today.  Although never given the proper credit while he was alive, Gregor Mendel set the stage for future thinkers to pursue a study on DNA.  Without his extensive work with plants, would Johann Friedrich Miescher have been able to discover that chromosomes in each cell nucleus were made up of more than just protein?  Each geneticist building off the work of another through the years ultimately allowed Francis Crick to head the charge in uncovering the main mysteries of DNA.  DNA that could one day help rightfully charge criminals like the one that broke into Helena’s house.  The challenging concept that developed into DNA was a collective creative process, that although took decades to answer, was unearthed by many intelligent minds.  Referring to what we discussed in class, bouncing ideas off of each other can in fact provide a better, and more complete, answer to a question or concept.

Ideas Helped by a Collective Process?

Now It’s Your Turn

The patterns are simple, but followed together, they make for a whole that is wiser than the sum of its parts. Go for a walk; cultivate hunches; write everything down, but keep your folders messy; embrace serendipity; make generative mistakes; take on multiple hobbies; frequent coffeehouses and other liquid networks; follow the links; let others build on your ideas; borrow, recycle, invent. Build a tangled bank.” -Johnson, pg. 246

I think this is a really effective way to end the book. By offering all of these simple suggestions, Johnson goes through a quick summary of all the ideas he discussed: hunches, serendipity, errors, liquid networks, the strength of weak ties. But he’s also encouraging his readers to cultivate good ideas of their own. And maybe we won’t pioneer new platforms that spark a change in the lives of millions of people, or create an invention that changes the world. But as we’ve seen throughout the book, good ideas can come from and can be found anywhere; they’re not limited to any particular field. We can use this advice to help us come up with the topic for our next essay in our writing class, or maybe we can use it to become better problem-solvers, putting pieces together to see the big picture. Maybe we can apply this knowledge in our chemistry or biology labs, and it comes time to make a hypothesis regarding the experiment we’re about to do. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what we do with what we’ve learned from Johnson’s book, because he’s shown us a wide enough variety of innovations from all over the world and from throughout history for us to know that this knowledge can be applicable anywhere.

Now It’s Your Turn

A Non Marketed Individual Invention

“Solo, amateur innovation (quadrant three) surrenders much of its lead to the rising power of networks and commerce (quadrant four).”- Johnson (p.228)

The 4 Quadrants

After reading Johnson’s chapter on quadrants. I was interested in finding understanding why amateur innovations would surrendered it lead to the big power of networks and commerce. Upon surfing the web I stumbled across a cool article explaining about a new innovation that will be revolutionary for trauma medicine. The invention that would lead to save many is called VetiGel.

images

It is a gel used as a clotting factor in animals (and in the near future humans) in extreme blood trauma situations. It can stop bleeding as fast as 12 seconds! The creator of VetiGel, Joe Landolina, created the product when he was 17. Joe is an amateur innovator interested in the pursuit for the advancement of biomedical science and technology. After further reading a dew more articles I found that one of the main reasons why Joe decided to commercialize the product was not only to set himself financially but to also for the benefit of society. By designing this product Joe also gained national and worldwide recognition and opened many doors of opportunityto continue further research.

-http://www.businessinsider.com/a-17-year-old-invented-vetigel-stops-bleeding-instantly-2015-6

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20150626005098/en/Suneris-Introduces-VETIGEL%E2%84%A2-Wound-Care-Solution-Veterinarians

http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/38/27/dtg-vetigel-at-zoo-2015-07-03-bk.html

A Non Marketed Individual Invention

Connected Failures

After reading the last chapter of Johnson’s Where Good Ideas come from it became more clear to me how the process of implementing an innovation is played out. Putting this process into four quadrants I feel helps others understand the time and commitment that must go into fully implementing a hunch or idea. What this made me wonder was in order to reach the forth quadrant when talking about a hunch or innovation, the innovator must have had many reoccurring instances of failure, if these failures for a certain hunch were used in the four quadrant process for another hunch I feel it is more than likely that the process for implementing this hunch would be a lot faster and more efficient. This is relative to the ideas seen in Chapter 3 of Johnson’s book.

Connected Failures

The Fourth Quadrant and Random Innovation

“The fourth quadrant should be a reminder that more than one formula for innovation.”- Johnson 236

I believe that this is the main message of Johnson’s book. Clearly, he has defined methods through which innovation has developed in many different aspects of science and nature. However, Johnson never comes out and says “This is how you innovate. This method is the way that you can become a great inventor and make amazing innovations. This is mostly because a method like this doesn’t exist. Johnson does a great job showing us this, as well as showing us specific factors that influence the process of idea making. He chooses to not try to define the Eureka! moments so that we can use his advice to go out and think freely rather than try to follow some formula he claims facilitate idea-making.

The Fourth Quadrant and Random Innovation

Internet Platforms and their advantages

Internet platforms have a great potential for the sharing of ideas and concepts. Johnson mentions Twitter in his chapter about platforms, but there are so many other areas where idea sharing can occur. The great thing about the Internet is that you don’t have to live in a specific area in order to access complex and vastly different communities, like you have to with cities. One has access to troves of information, and if you can find the right websites and forums one can expand their adjacent possible almost infinitely. In addition, the availability of blogs allows people to publish their discoveries much quicker than they would before the advent of the Web. However, this has drawbacks. For example, internet posters depend on the will of seemingly random public opinion to “go viral”, or receive recognition. Regardless, the Internet is a budding new platform that is already leading to innovation and will clearly lead to more in the future.

Internet Platforms and their advantages

Distant/Close Reading

“Distant reading takes the satellite view of the literary landscape, looking for larger patterns in the history of the stories we tell each other,” -Johnson (224).

Just a couple weeks ago in my English class I was taught about the concept of close reading and how it allows us to, word by word, draw deeper meanings from a text.  Johnson talks about how Franco Moretti used “distant reading” to track the genres of a bunch of books over the course of a century and a half.  He argues how distant reading allows us to look at the bigger picture and, more specifically, what that means in terms to the innovation of literary genres.  I would argue, however, that close reading can be just as important as distant reading when one is trying to see a bigger picture in a way like this.  I believe these two types of reading should go hand in hand when trying to discern the overall genre or theme from a literary work.  Sure distant reading can allow one to see the bigger picture, but does it allow one to see all of it?  Close reading very carefully can reveal little things about characters in a text that can greatly shape different themes throughout the text.  Recognizing seemingly hidden themes in a work can allow one to better piece together the overall genre and themes.

Distant/Close Reading

Is Having an Open Platform a Good Thing?

“Twitter’s creators recognized that there was another kind of competitive advantage that came from complete openness: the advantage that comes from having the largest and most diverse ecosystem of software applications being built on your platform” – Johnson, p194

This quote really stuck out to me because it was interesting to me how Twitter created this platform where anyone could add their ideas or make the software better. It also prompted me to question whether this open platform causes issues with crediting someone for their work. In other words, should the Twitter creators receive full credit for their invention or should they have to share it with tons of people because they only made the basic platform? Once everyone inputs their own ideas into a project how can we determine who should receive the credit? Should it be shared by anyone who has ever submitted an idea? It is clear to see how for Twitter having an open platform was beneficial because the site was able to grow immensely, but can this kind of platform work for other ideas, concepts, and businesses? I believe it takes a certain field, like building social media, for open platforms to really be beneficial. I cannot see large businesses benefiting from an open platform because usually when I am in a decision making setting where a lot of opinions are being considered, we do not usually reach a conclusion.

Is Having an Open Platform a Good Thing?

Apple’s Coffeehouse

“Apple’s development cycle looks more like a coffeehouse than an assembly line.”-Johnson (170)

As a marketing major I am not only interested in the way a good company builds consumer relationships with consumers, but also what makes their creative process so great.  I found Apple’s coffeehouse technique fascinating, as well as, useful.  I feel that one of the reasons why Apple is at the top of the game when it comes to computers and phones is because of this creative process.  Instead of using a more traditional approach and losing the creative vision along the line of what can and can’t be done, Apple makes sure each line of production has a say.  Apple takes group brainstorming to a whole new level as sales people and engineers of a product will sit down and talk about the one central creative vision.  This  makes me wonder what other companies use this type of coffeehouse approach.

 

Apple’s Coffeehouse

The Coffeehouse Model of Creativity

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“Many of history’s great innovators managed to build a cross disciplinary coffeehouse environment within their own private work routines”

This is Nikola Tesla. He was an Serbian American scientist focused on the development of new technology for society. He was heavily involved in many different fields of science including physics, electrical and mechanical engineering. His interest in these different fields along with his futuristic ideas allowed for the creation of inventions that were beyond his time. By the late 1800’s Tesla went to pursue his ideas of wireless lighting and electricity. He also speculated the possibility of wireless communication, a technology used so often today. These hobbies and interests in these different fields proves as an example of how scientists can come up with great ideas by integrating concepts together.

The Coffeehouse Model of Creativity

Apple’s Approach

In a professional world, we tend to steer away from chaos, for we see it as unproductive. But…

“Apple’s approach, by contrast, is messier and more chaotic at the beginning, but it avoids the chronic problem of good ideas being hollowed out as they progress through the development chain” (Johnson 171)

I understand this reasoning because more ideas are available at the start of the project, and yes it might be chaotic, but great ideas can bounce off of the many ideas that are flowing through a department in the beginning, messy stages. So many devices can be created in the beginning because the ideas are fresh, and open to exaptation.

Apple’s Approach

Idea

“A good Idea is a network. A specific constellation of neurons – thousands of them – fire in sync with each other for the first time in your brain, and an idea pops into your consciousness.” – Johnson, page 45

I had never really thought of how I or people come up with ideas. It is the most common thing in our every day life. Every day we wake up and have thousands of ideas. However, in this every day life occurrence, there are millions of neurons making connections so that in one second we are thinking of an idea that help us make our lives easier. It is actually a process that we take for granted. These neurons all work in sync so we can think and motivate ourselves to do something with our lives. It is a network, meaning that they are working together to make something big.

share_your_ideas

Idea

Benefits of Error

“Being right keeps you in place. Being wrong forces you to explore.” -Johnson, pg 137

This quote gives an excellent explanation for why making mistakes or getting something wrong shouldn’t discourage you. If you know exactly what you’re doing from the start and things turn out exactly like you planned, you won’t get to learn anything new. You won’t get to take advantage of serendipity, stumbling across something you had no intention of discovering but helps you along anyway.
I think being wrong also forces you to keep an open mindset. Johnson also mentions an experiment in which groups of students were making word associations based on colors, and their answers often became more original when actors in their groups purposefully introduced doubt to the situation. When the students weren’t a hundred percent positive that the picture they were shown was primarily blue, they were forced to stop and think, considering more possibilities.

Benefits of Error

chapter 5

“An organism that constantly rescrambled the genetic code passed down to its descendants would be more innovative in its offspring, but only in the sense that those offspring would find many novel ways to perish before or shortly after birth. – Johnson, p 144

This part of the the text really caught my attention since it had to do with mutation and how we develop to become what we are. In this way we are able to survive with no dramatic change. If it would be done so drastically than it would be harder for organisms to survive. So it was interesting to understand more of the why. GP.GeneticCode

chapter 5

The Great Mind

“The errors of the great mind exceed in numbers those of the less vigorous ones.” Johnson 137

Here, Johnson is stating that quantity takes precedence over quality. Those who attempt time and time again in several different ways to create something stand a better chance at actually succeeding than those who put all their eggs in one basket. I found this interesting because I have always heard “quality over quantity” rather than what Johnson is suggesting. Is there proof to his statement or is that an over-generalization?

The Great Mind

Failure or Teamwork

In this chapter it is mentioned several times that de Forest had failed many times while implementing one of his most critical innovations, I was wondering if it would had been more effective in a timeliness sense if other hunches and ideas were connected to his, or was it most effective for him to “fail forward.” This also ties back into the idea that every hunch takes a while to be fully implemented and even with that said not every hunch ends up being fully introduced.I get the feeling that “failing forward” and having a team behind you is what is best for implementation.

Failure or Teamwork

Building Walls around Ideas: Good or bad?

“But the strange fact is that a great deal of the past two centuries of legal and folk wisdom about innovation has pursued the exact opposite argument, building walls between ideas, keeping them from the kind of random, serendipitous connections that exist in dreams and in the organic compounds of life. Ironically, those walls have been erected with the explicit aim of encouraging innovation.” – Johnson, p123

While reading this chapter this passage really made me question why we build barriers around our ideas if sharing them, and connecting with other people is really the best way to establish great ideas. Why has the world created patents and copyrights that protect ideas from the ideas of others? How can people develop a slow hunch that they have, or explore the adjacent possible if everyones ideas are guarded by legal documents? How can we break down these walls and introduce a more connective environment?

Building Walls around Ideas: Good or bad?

The Environment and Hunches

Reading the end of chapter 3 was very informative, as it described the environment in which Google operates. Google has its employees pursue personal personal projects that involved their passions. This type of environment fostered a workplace that enabled ideas to experience immense growth, ultimately resulting in major breakthroughs, like Google News. The end of the chapter also highlights the evolution of workplaces and networks, as Google has seen tremendous growth, while the FBI still uses the same system that halted the movement of the Phoenix memo.

The Environment and Hunches

challenges of reproducing

“… when the world gets challenging – scarce resources, predators, parasites – you need to innovate. And the quickest path to innovation lies in making novel connections. This strategy of switching back and forth between asexual and sexual reproduction goes by the name “heterogamy” and while it is unusual, many different organisms have adopted it.” -Johnson, page 108

This part of the the reading caught my attention because it shows how organisms have learned to survive through out the years. They have adapted ways so that they will not go extinct. They have learned to combat each threat that has presented to them. Even though it is unusual, it has helped them survive and those organisms that can adopted have started using them. This is something new to me since I though that it was one or the other, but now I know that there can be various ways that these organisms can reproduce and defend themselves. It is an interesting strategy to defend themselves and gain new ways of living and mixing themselves. If not, most of these organisms would probably not exist.

challenges of reproducing

Connections are better than separation

I thought it was interesting how the lack of connection between certain hunches proved to be a disastrous problem, if hunches about the 9/11 attack had be intertwined, maybe the attack could have been prevented. There are also many ideas contradicting to this. When certain hunches are connected and eventually work to get together to get to one implementation it could cause problems like who gets the credit for the one hunch. This result can bring us to other conclusions and ideas that hunches could be better off forming individually in order to avoid future problems between the innovators of these hunches.

Connections are better than separation

Write Every Hunch Down

“So part of the secret of hunch cultivation is simple: write everything down.” (Johnson, p83)

Often times we lose track of our hunches and even forget them. Hunches are like a seed, they need to be planted, tended to, and harvested. We need to write our hunches down so that we do not lose them and kill them before they even had a chance to grow. This reminds me of keeping a journal. If you want to remember special occasions for instance, you could keep a journal of all the special occasions of which you have celebrated. Once written down, years could go by and you would still be able to remember those occasions. We make the biggest connection of writing down hunches when we think of Darwin. He kept a log of all of his evolutionary discoveries. We know what we do about evolution today because of his hunches.

 

Write Every Hunch Down

Write It Down

“Most slow hunches never last long enough to turn into something useful, because they pass in and out of our memory too quickly, precisely because they possess a certain murkiness. You get a feeling that there’s an interesting avenue to explore, a problem that might someday lead you to a solution, but then you get distracted by more pressing matters and the hunch disappears. So part of the secret of hunch cultivation is simple: write everything down.” -Johnson, page 83

This quote stood out to me because it reminded me of a previous post I made regarding Where Good Ideas Come From, when Johnson was talking about how the key to having good ideas is to get more parts on the table. And I connected that to how I usually go about solving writer’s block, by simply writing as much as I can. Because the more material I get onto the page, the more I have to work with and the more likely it is I’ll stumble across something or a few things that I can put together and use for a story. I definitely agree that writing everything down is incredibly important; it’s hard for a fragment of an idea to become anything more if it stays inside your head. Regarding writing, maybe a line or phrase will pop into my head, and I don’t know where it might fit into what I’m writing, if at all. But if I write it down, I can look back at it later. Maybe I’ll have written something else by that point that can work with the fragment I wrote down before. And it’s not very smart to assume that you’ll remember all the pieces of good ideas you’ve had; it’s better to write something down and have it go unused than forget it.

Write It Down

The Importance of a Network

“It’s not that the network itself is smart; it’s that the individuals get smarter because they’re connected to the network” – Johnson, p58

The network environment helps to bring ideas into the light and propel them into a state of success. This quote stuck out to me because it is significant in showing that the network is not the smart component in the equation, but instead the people that are connected to the network are the smart ones. By being surrounded by people who share your intellect and creativeness, innovation prospers. Johnson does a good job of exemplifying that by bouncing ideas off one another, and sharing thoughts with one another, people gain knowledge.

The Importance of a Network

Connections and Ideas

“For the first time, humans began forming groups that numbered in the thousands, or tens of thousands. After millennia of living in an intimate cluster of extended family, they began sharing a space crowded with strangers. With that increase in population came a crucial increase in the number of possible connections that could be formed within the group” (Johnson, 53).

This quote relates back to the earlier chapter about cities and reefs. Previously, I wondered if cities produced greater ideas than smaller towns did because of their access to resources, but now I better understand that it really is just because of the population. Cities have more people, thus they generate more ideas. People easily bounce ideas off of each other. The people in cities are just like the neurons in the brain — both make connections with the other people/neurons in their environments. Some of the greatest ideas come out of cities such as New York City, Los Angeles and Boston — all places where many big businesses and people are located. 

Connections and Ideas

Good ideas

At the end of Chapter 1, Johnson poses the question, “What kind of environment creates good ideas?”  I think that the best environment for good ideas is a “needy” one.  The best ideas and innovations come from need.  If you cannot complete a task to your satisfaction using the tools available to you then you are going to be more inclined to find another solution to your problem.  Therefore, if you have a need for a new invention then you will be more urgent in trying to actually invent it.

Good ideas

Spare Parts and Big Ideas

“Part of coming up with a good idea is discovering what those spare parts are, and ensuring that you’re not just recycling the same old ingredients… The trick to having good ideas is not to sit around in glorious isolation and try to think big thoughts. The trick is to get more parts on the table.” -Johnson, pg 42

I was really struck by this passage at the end of chapter one. I really love how inclusive Johnson always is with his discussion of innovation and good ideas; although this is a biotechnology course, so much of what we can learn from this book is applicable to other fields. This part in particular reminds me of how I’ve learned to get over writer’s block. When I get stuck writing a story, it’s tempting to sit and stare off into space, hoping a good idea will come to me, some sort of magical revelation of how to continue the story. But like Johnson says, “[sitting] in glorious isolation and [trying] to think big thoughts” usually won’t get you anywhere. After all that thinking and thinking and thinking, I’m often left with what I started with: a blank page. I’ve found, and Johnson seems to agree, that the solution to writer’s block is simply to write. Maybe I won’t solve my plot problem right away, but I’m giving myself more material to work with. I’m getting “more parts on the table.” Some of those parts may end up going unused, but if I give myself enough parts to work with, eventually I’ll find enough bits that I can piece together, maybe in a way I didn’t expect.
This passage offers wonderful advice for problem-solving, whether you’re a scientist, a writer, or something else entirely.

Spare Parts and Big Ideas

You are who you are around with

“Good ideas are like the NeoNurture device. They are, inevitably, constrained by the parts and skills that surround them”(Johnson 28).

I think this is extremely interesting and furthermore relative to everyday life. In order to improve something, for example bad behavior, you must surround yourself with better people and things in order to succeed. This is relative to some of the ideas included in the adjacent possible, for example it is mentioned that for ideas to bloom, it is vital that the environment and people you are surrounded by must have a similar goal as you. If you are trying to find a cure for cancer, it is best for you to be surrounded by people that wish to do the same, not people with goals that oppose or differ from yours.

You are who you are around with

Good Ideas

“We take the ideas we’ve inherited or that we’ve stumbled across, and we jigger them together into some new shape. We like to think of our ideas as $40,000 incubators, shipped direct from the factory, but in reality they’ve been cobbled together with spare parts that happened to be sitting in the garage” (Johnson, 29).

This passage really stood out to me. It is so true — the best ideas do not always have to be the ones that are unprecedented. Sometimes, the best ideas come from prior knowledge and experience; from taking what you know and using it to your advantage. For example, Facebook, one of the most successful websites, started as a small idea that eventually blossomed into what it is today. (The movie, The Social Network, portrays Mark Zuckerberg’s transition from small idea to success very nicely). There are so many expectations in the world today, and this quote is just a nice reminder that you do not always have to be the best of the best to succeed.

Good Ideas