“To make your mind more innovative, you have to place it inside environments that share the same network signature: networks of ideas or people that mimic the neutral networks of a mind exploring the boundaries of the adjacent possible.” – Johnson (47)
Ideas, in my mind, are like babies. They must be incubated, nurtured, and talked about. One person coming up with a great idea without any sort of advice, adjustments, or critiquing, is almost unheard of. When a great idea comes to mind, it only makes sense to put it to the test and see what type of response its gets from your peers. The people in these liquid networks are what elevate mediocre ideas into great ideas. These networks provide a platform where ideas can be edited and enhanced in an intellectually competent environment. Liquid networks push individuals to think on another level and get advice to further develop these ideas. Whether it be a laboratory or a coffee shop, liquid networks positively contribute to idea development. Its almost hard to imagine a scenario where networks wouldn’t contribute to the development of an idea. These networks are what allow ideas to develop and mature, while maybe inspiring new ideas in the process.
“If we’re going to try to explain the mystery of where ideas come from, we’ll have to start by shaking ourselves free of this common misconception: an idea is not a single thing. It is more like a swarm” (Johnson, 45-46).
This sentence is important for us to understand. We as society tend to overlook the smaller details in the bigger picture. That is how we miss those moments where the smaller details actually mean the most. However, this is still a hard thing to do because we have so many things on our mind, I feel as if it is hard to interpret with all those ideas in our heads are actually ideas or just random thoughts. Although this may be the case, I’m kind of steering towards thinking that maybe all our thoughts in our head are all ideas, it just depends how you use those ideas in your life. You can choose to use it to benefit people, or just not use it at all and put it in the back of your mind. All and all, we must understand that an idea is not a single thing and that it is more like a swarm because everyday we are learning and seeing new things, which makes us produce many ideas everyday.
“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, p.45)
I found the idea of networks to be quite interesting. We as humans explore the adjacent possible connections in our surroundings. That is how we reach new innovation. If somebody says something to us that we find interesting, we may go research it. That research may lead to another connection about that topic, and before we know it, we will have a full network of ideas that leads me to a new innovation. It is a kind of hard to believe it, but this Commonplace Book itself is a network leading to new innovations. We all post things we find interesting, and that leads others to do further research and come up with new ideas about those interesting things.
“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.
“Silicon sits directly below carbon on the periodic table, and shares its four valence electronics . But silicon lacks carbon’s unique versatility.” pg. 50
I was interested in silicon when it was brought up in Chapter Two: Liquid Networks because I did not know much about it so I decided to do some research about it.Silicons atomic number is 14 and symbol is Si. Silicon may lack some qualities that Carbon has but silicon paired with other elements is beneficial and widely used in electronics. For example when silicon is paired with aluminum, large metallic parts can be manufactured. Silicon and aluminum creates a good fluidity balance so it can create parts with different types of shape and consistency. Silicon can also be used as a conductor when mixed with small amounts of elements such as boron. I am happy I looked into silicon because I learned so much information I did not know. Check out the link below for some cool facts!
This website discusses how amazing silicon is in our electronics
In the lecture portion of the Synthetic Biology course I took, you learn about different genome sizes, techniques for sequencing, how to build a genome from scratch etc. One of the cool things about this class is that the lab portion of this course offers you very real research experience that international. The yeast genome has recently been fully sequenced to where every nucleic acid has been identified within it. Knowing the sequences of all sections of the genome, the yeast genome project has now become the challenge of building it from raw materials, dNTPS. Every week in lab you build upon your synthetic DNA sequence making it longer and longer to eventually have a successful synthetic sequence of the genome. As awesome as this sounds, doing this is actually very difficult. When I took this course none of the material worked and I always had blank bands on my electrophoresis gel. There were also a ton of steps involved with making synthetic DNA that many errors could occur with simple techniques. Science is always tricky and takes effort to accomplish something.
“Individuals get smarter because they’re connected to the network” (pg. 60).
Being that this is an international program, multiple minds are working on this same experiment of building a synthetic genome. People can learn from other’s failures in building the genome. Learn what techniques work and which ones didn’t.
I thought it was interesting how the theory of the ‘edge of chaos’ can be applied to almost everything, what I thought of off the bat is packing for college, too much can prove to be a nuisance, too little can prove to be a dilemma. It is rather a redundant occurrence that people tend to go overboard with certain things. For example when people spend to much time exercising they expose themselves to injury or even physical exhaustion. On the contrary, when people get too little exercise they begin to live an unhealthy and dangerous lifestyle. This concept of ‘edge of chaos’ is not only a formidable theory it is also a way of life.
“No doubt some ingenious hunter-gatherer stumbled across the cleansing properties of ashes mixed with animal fat, or dreamed of building aqueducts in those long eons before the rise of cities, and we simply have no record of his epiphany”- Johnson 54
This way this quote is worded makes me wonder about the nature of innovation. Is it fair to assume that a hunter-gatherer simply “stumbled” upon the discovery of mixing ashes and animal fat? Is it possible that he was actually looking for something or experimenting? It also relates to Johnson’s other point of the connection between the concentration of people and the rise of ideas. Was the hunter-gatherer who came across revolutionary ideas simply ingenious or ahead of his time, seeing that he had not city environment to foster his creativity and he came up with the ideas on his own? If this is true, I think that it also applies to many great minds of the modern era, such as Einstein, who seemed to be in a world of his own intuition when it came to new or revolutionary ideas. Yet, I’m sure there are those who would argue that he was equally a product of his environment, upbringing, etc.
In the “Liquid Network” chapter, Johnson analyzes how we can push ourselves to think more creatively. He writes, “The answer, as it happens, is delightfully fractal: to make your mind more innovative, you have to place it inside environments that share that same network signature: networks of ideas or people that mimic neural networks of a mind exploring the boundaries of the adjacent possible.” (Johnson, 47)
I reread this statement a few times and realized that I was a prime example of this: While at school, I work so much more efficiently. I manage myself, my time, and my work more effectively than I ever did while living at home. And when I work, whether it is in writing or designing, I can generate better ideas.
Much of that has to do with the campus environment. The people I’ve met here think the same way that I do, so when I explain ideas to them, they understand and help me develop them further than I could have on my own. I also have the opportunity to connect with people in my major. So when I need help with design layouts or revising an essay, I can talk to someone who is equally interested in that subject and at my level of study.
Therefore, this quote is accurate. People who think alike can develop more together.
“Without the generative links of carbon, the earth would have likely remained a lifeless soup of elements, a planet of dead chemistry” (Johnson 49)
From previous knowledge of biology, I knew of the importance of carbon and how sustainable it was. And in chemistry, we learned of its outer shell, which contains 4 valence electrons, and made it the most stable element. This quote put an image in my head: A planet of nothing, no life. A terribly lifeless and colourless world that would exist without carbon. It makes me wonder, can we create carbon artificially? If nothing else can replace carbon, will it need to created by man with the threat of climate change and carbon footprints?
*Also very interesting how something that sustains life can create deadly substances:(Carbon Dioxide, Methane)
“Water is also a fiendishly talented dissolver of things. (Even the famously inert gold is soluble in seawater if you give it enough time.)” -Johnson, pg 51
I thought this entire chapter was really interesting, especially with all the talk of chemistry and the structure of the brain at the beginning. But this is what I found most surprising. I had no idea that gold was even remotely soluble. Hearing the words ‘gold’ and ‘seawater’ together makes me think of divers finding gold from hundreds of years ago on sunken ships, completely withstanding the tests of time.
I already knew a little about what makes water such a good solvent without having to do any research. The polarity of water molecules makes it good at pulling apart molecules (which is to say, separating molecules from each other, not breaking the bonds of individual molecules, which would be creating a chemical change rather than dissolving a material). In addition, Johnson makes it clear that it’s sea water that’s capable of dissolving gold, and seawater has all sorts of ions in it that can help break intramolecular bonds.
I tried to do some research to figure out exactly what it is about seawater that makes it able to dissolve gold, or how long the process could take, but most articles I found were talking about gold that has already been dissolved in the ocean, wondering how to reclaim it. The presence of gold molecules in seawater does provide compelling evidence, but I still can’t help but wonder where those gold molecules came from and if it was because of seawater alone that they were able to dissolve.
“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.
“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.
Near the end of Chapter 2 Johnson brings up Microsoft Building number 99 which is where their research division is and is supposed to be a building which causes creation and innovation to flourish. This made me very curious as to what a building designed with this purpose in mind. Maybe because I am not in the building but aside from looking open and flowing which was the point as said in the book I do not think I would be more creative working there. Regardless I think its cool that Microsoft has certain buildings for certain things and I included a picture of the building below.
Source of Picture found on google images http://blogs.microsoft.com/next/2011/05/03/a-tour-of-my-microsoft-workspace-steve-clayton/
I thought Chapter 2 was very interesting because it discussed the ability to thrive and create new ideas by networks and connections in relation to the adjacent possible. I liked how the chapter related these ideas back to liquids as networks, for example, freezing liquid to create solids. In relating to General Chemistry courses, we also learned that solids and liquids exist, not just because, but rather as a result of hot or cold that allow things to melt or freeze. In this case those external forces of hot and cold were the “networks” or connections. In relating to the entire chapter, I thought it was interesting to relate these ideas back to the adjacent possible. Essentially, the adjacent possible is understood through connections, networks, and interactions between things. The last line of the chapter stating,
Exploring the adjacent possible can be as simple as opening a door. But sometimes you need to move a wall” -Johnson, p65
was a very powerful statement. Essentially, there is no strict answer or reason that something exists, but one has to dig deeper to understand the connections and networks as to why things exist or came about. Moving a wall is much harder than opening a door. You have to break it down into pieces to see the connections.
A brilliant idea occurs to a scientist or an inventor somewhere in the world, and he goes public with his remarkable finding, only to discover that three multiple minds had independently come up with the same idea in the past four years. – Johnson pg. 34
Often times, if an idea is so great that it is often thought of multiple times over by different people, then why does it take so long for them to go mainstream? According to the 10/10 rule, it takes 10 years for an inventor to perfect their idea and 10 years for the idea to be accepted into the population. I believe that if an idea, such as the electrical battery (mention in Johnson, 34), is invented time and time again, then there is a need for it. If there’s such a need for a product, typically it should spark a fad for it and it shouldn’t take 10 years to be recognized.