Platforms

“APL was a superb environment for inquisitive young kids, and particularly so in the Research Center. It was an environment that encouraged people to think broadly and generally about task problems, and one in which inquisitive kids felt free to follow their curiosity.” (187)

The Advanced Physics Lab is world famous for its innovation, and in its making the impossible, possible. What caught my eye in this particular passage was the fact that Johnson made sure to say that these scientists, were “inquisitive young kids”, I think the importance of these scientists being just kids is crucial to the success of the APL. Young minds ask more broad questions because they haven’t been conditioned by the older members of society to think and act a certain way, they (we) let our minds wander and wonder about the impossible because our species has proven time and time again that the impossible is most certainly possible, as long as you have the new generations asking the questions. The day we truly let our kids, and I mean kids, not young adult scientists, question everything and not chastise them for not being realistic or possible, is the day we raise the smartest and most innovative generation the world has ever seen.

 

Platforms

Patents vs Platforms

The idea of platforms is ultimately formed off the notion that ideas can always build off one another in order to improve innovation all together. When thinking about this idea I come to realize that if this idea is such a success renovator then why do governments suggest the use of patents? Patents are basically the complete opposite of the idea of platforms. In my eyes I see less problems and controversy arising from the use of patents. Due to the uncertainty of creation that would arise from platforms I do see cons in this theory. Although it may help innovators come up with ideas in a much more smooth and speedy way it will eventually cause ownership problems.

Patents vs Platforms

Bone Cement

Hip-replacement

I have been fortunate enough to know personally some amazing orthopedic surgeons. My mother has always worked in the medical field in close contact with these professionals. Ever since I was young, I had always been interested in the medical field and when I was 16 I thought I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. A close family friend took me into his operating room at 16 years old to watch a total hip and bilateral knee replacement. I was offered an opportunity that most medical students haven’t even experienced yet. During the surgery, Dr. Porth handed me a glob of white material that reminded me of play-doh. He told me to make a mushroom out of the dough and I was confused as to what it was. After about 20 minutes the material had hardened completely. What he gave me was bone cement that he was using to hold together the metal implants in the surgery. I later had put my name on it and the date to remember the moment.

 

When reading this chapter on platforms, I found it interesting that scientist mimicked the corals growth mechanisms to create this cement for repairing fractures. Now this cement is used world wide as a tool for holding the implants together so they wont separate. What is also amazing is that the body doesn’t usually reject it. However, its usually only found on the inside between two implants, not on the outside of them. Before reading this chapter I had no idea where the idea for such an innovative tool came from. Coral reefs have a huge effect on the ecosystem underwater but I would of never thought to use their mechanism to come up with a surgical tool.

Bone Cement

Google as a Platform

“Platform building is, by definition, a kind of exercise in emergent behavior” (Johnson, p182).

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of platform innovations is Google. Google began as an idea for a search engine back at Stanford University. Two college students were looking for a way to bring endless amounts of information to people using an online search engine, so Google “emerged”. The Google search engine was the base foundation, or “platform” that set the ground for the large amounts of information that one can find today online. In fact Google even led to more search engines. As people saw that the innovation of Google was successful they wanted to gain some of the glory. So, they adapted the idea of Google and turned it into new search engines.

 

google1

Google as a Platform

Social Media

Johnson has made social media a very prominent theme throughout each chapter of “Where Good Ideas Come From. In the chapter, Platforms, he shows how different social outlets can be used as a source of information. The internet can help us share information, and help us  find answers quickly, and with less effort than 30 years ago.

“Stacked platforms are like that: you think you’re fighting the Cold War, and it turns out you’re actually helping people figure out where to have lunch” (Johnson 210)

This ties back into exaptation, and using information/inventions in ways that it was not originally intended create to perform to do. With the information we have available to us on the internet, we are able to mold information into the answers we need.

Social Media

Citizens Tackling Problems

“Third, a long tradition exists of citizens committing time and intellectual energy to tackling problems where there is a perceived civic good at stake” (Johnson, 196).

    When I read this line I immediately tied to back to Twitter. Just last semester, I studied citizen journalism in my Introduction to Journalism course. Citizen journalism is becoming an increasingly prevalent activity. All that this means is that average citizens are doing reporter-type jobs, whether they may be in person or online. Out of all social media platforms, Twitter has noticed the most citizen journalism activity. As an active Twitter user, I have noticed this myself. People will often live tweet important, breaking news, sometimes including a hashtag for others can track it. Personally, I think Twitter is a good way to get news out quickly — as long as the facts are correct.

Citizens Tackling Problems

Phytoplankton: A Crucial Organism

Platform building is, by definition, a kind of exercise in emergent behavior”-Johnson (pp.182)

 

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This is a scanning electron picture of a phytoplankton. These microorgansims account for half of all photosynthetic activity on Earth. Just as the beavers described by Johnson, these organisms provide the base foundation for many other aquatic species to exist. The Nation Centers for Coastal Ocean Science explains that, “In a balanced ecosystem, phytoplankton provide food for a wide range of sea creature including whales, shrimp, snails, and jellyfish”.  Without these crucial microorganisms providing nutrition and oxygen our aquatic ecosystem would not look as it is today.

Phytoplankton: A Crucial Organism

The Web

The web can be imagined as a kind of archaeological site, with layers upon layers of platforms buried beneath every page…all he [Tim Berners-Lee] had to do was build a standard framework for describing hypertext pages (html) (Johnson 189).

The web built on top of a network of computers that were already communicating between themselves all across the world. For me often this idea of world wide computer communication is synonymous with the internet. But in reality the web was just another door that opened following this network. HTTP was already in practice with computers internationally. HTML is simply the language that computers use to create the web pages we look at every day. Tim Berners-Lee even based his HTML off of SGML, which was IBM technology. This is further evidence that collaboration between scientists produces at a higher rate then solo work. The web was a collective effort between many scientists, Berners-Lee just stood on the shoulders of giants like HTTP and SGML.

The Web

Recycling

All the talk of recycling in this chapter (corals and zooxanthellae exchanging waste products, Constantz using carbon dioxide to grow carbonate cement) reminded me of another kind of recycling I learned about in psychology last semester: the reuptake process that our neurons use. Neurons send signals using a variety of chemicals called neurotransmitters; they’re released by terminals in the neuron’s axon, and are received by dendrites at the opposite end of the cell. And after a neuron receives those signals, it starts transferring the neurotransmitters down the axon to the opposite end of the cell. That way, the neuron can reuse the neurotransmitters the next time it needs to send a signal, and the neurotransmitters stay within the vast network of neurons rather than becoming waste.

Recycling

Platforms

“The most generative platforms come in stacks, most conspicuously in the layered platform of the Web.” – Johnson, page 189

Out of the whole chapter, the way platforms came stuck most my attention. That was because the way platforms are made help innovation. Like it all starts from small to bigger ideas. And so, when small ideas and platforms come to be, bigger come to be. For example, social media started out as something small and now it is something incredibly big where people are able to communicate. Not only are they able to communicate, but now it is a place where they can watch and read the news. maxresdefault

Platforms

Reuse or Abandon?

“Platforms have a natural appetite for trash, waste, and abandoned goods… Emergent platforms derive much of their creativity from the inventive and economical reuse of existing resources…” -Johnson 199

“Nature has long built its platforms by recycling the available resources, including the waste generated by other organisms. Two things we have in abundance on this planet right now are pollution and seawater. Why not try to build a city out of them?” – Johnson 205

The first quote and idea of Johnson really struck me in regards to new ways and places of human habitation. A common theme in sic-fi books taking place in the future is proposing places where the author imagines humans will be living come some 50, 100, or even a thousand years from now. One that I came across was underground cities. At this point in life, humans had polluted the earth so much that the decided to move underground and build vast networks and infrastructures that were prosperous and habitable while sparing the earth’s bounty above. Other story lines suggest that humans trash their habitats so much that they just move on to other places and must start from scratch.

I think these two proposed situations illustrate an aspect that Johnson’s doesn’t really address about platforms and their efficiency.  For one, I think that for used platforms to be successful in fostering new ideas and having ideas built on top of them, they cannot be overused or dried up. For example, humans being forced to move underground or completely abandon cities because of the level of pollution and destruction does not allow for new ideas to grow or human life to prosper, unless they be animals or organisms that can make use of the environment.

Secondly, Johnson suggests that we build cities out of pollution and seawater, his point being that we can use waste and products which are just sitting idly but largely at our disposal to create things. This lead me to wonder, with all this recent craze about moving to space and inhabiting it, are we moving/thinking in the wring direction? Should we focus  on allowing human life to expand into space, which I am sure that scientists are going to be able to do, or should we focus on making use of the tons of untapped resources that are still on the earth (and maybe make existing resources a bit cleaner while we are at it)? I think it this is such a hard question to answer because there are so many factors involved. Ethics, government, profit, wealth, individual and corporate interests, country’s interests, these are all factors that make the issue complicated.

Reuse or Abandon?

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?

Don’t Underestimate Cartoons

“The elevation variation in volcanic islands was immense: some tapered off a dozen feet above sea level; others, like Mauna Kea, surged ten thousand feet into the sky. Most volcanic peaks lay thousands of feet below the surface.” (Johnson, 178)

Immediately the first image that came into my head was the volcano from Disney Pixar’s short “Lava”. The animated short traces the tale of a volcano singing a love song for years. As he sings, he is eroded away. But the lava he emits creates a new volcano. So while he is descending, she shoots through the water. He descends below sea level, but because he is so much closer to the peak of the water, when she emits lava, he immediately grows to meet her.

I think it’s incredibly how accurate the short portrayed volcanic evolution. Granted it was not the most accurate representation, but it was still rather informative. If I really thought about it, I could probably recover a lot of valuable information from cartoons that I watched when I was younger.

Don’t Underestimate Cartoons