“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 Where Good Ideas Come From, 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.
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.
A compelling account of how incorporating play into work can help us overcome the uncertainty and turbulence that surrounds work How can we learn to deal with uncertainty at work? The answer, as Dodgson and Gann eloquently portray in this pathfinding book, is to learn from the adaptive behaviors of entrepreneurs. Play, the authors show, is a crucial component of this. It encourages exploration, experimentation, and curiosity while it also challenges established practices and orthodoxies. It facilitates change in people and organizations. Drawing on in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs and innovators, this book explains why we should incorporate play into work, what play looks like, and how to encourage playfulness in individuals and organizations. Dodgson and Gann identify four key behaviors that endorse, encourage, and guide play: grace, craft, fortitude, and ambition, and provide a blueprint for an alternative way of working that fosters resilience and encourages innovation and growth in difficult times.
Did you drink a glass of water today? Did you turn on a light? Did you think about how miraculous either one of those things is when you did it? Of course not--but you should, and New York Times bestselling author Steven Johnson has. This adaptation of his adult book and popular PBS series explores the fascinating and interconnected stories of innovations--like clean drinking water and electricity--that changed the way people live. Innovation starts with a problem whose solution sets in motion all kinds of unexpected discoveries. That's why you can draw a line from pendulums to punching the clock at a factory, from ice blocks to summer movie blockbusters, from clean water to computer chips. In the lively storytelling style that has made him a popular, bestselling author, Steven Johnson looks at how accidental genius, brilliant mistakes, and unintended consequences shape the way we live in the modern world. Johnson's "long zoom" approach connects history, geography, politics, and scientific advances with the deep curiousity of inventors or quirky interests of tinkerers to show how innovation truly comes about. His fascinating account is organized into six topics: glass, cold, sound, clean, time, light. Johnson's fresh exploration of these simple, single-syllable word concepts creates an endlessly absorbing story that moves from lightning strikes in the prehistoric desert to the herculean effort to literally raise up the city of Chicago to laser labs straight out of a sci-fi movie. In other words, it's the story of how we got to now!
Nineteenth-century Britain was a world in play. The Victorians invented the weekend and built hundreds of parks and playgrounds. In the wake of Darwin, they re-imagined nature as a contest for survival. The playful child became a symbol of the future. A world in play means two things: a world in flux and a world trapped, like Alice in Wonderland, in a ludic microcosm of itself. The book explores the extent to which play (competition, leisure, mischief, luck, festivity, imagination) pervades nineteenth-century literature and culture and forms the foundations of the modern self. Play made the Victorian world cohere and betrayed the illusoriness of that coherence. This is the paradox of modernity. Kaiser gives an account of how certain Victorian misfits—working-class melodramatists of the 1830s, the reclusive Emily Brontë, free spirits Robert Louis Stevenson and John Muir, mischievous Oscar Wilde—struggled to make sense of this new world. In so doing, they discovered the art of modern life.
Bestselling author Simon Winchester writes a magnificent history of the pioneering engineers who developed precision machinery to allow us to see as far as the moon and as close as the Higgs boson. Precision is the key to everything. It is an integral, unchallenged and essential component of our modern social, mercantile, scientific, mechanical and intellectual landscapes. The items we value in our daily lives - a camera, phone, computer, bicycle, car, a dishwasher perhaps - all sport components that fit together with precision and operate with near perfection. We also assume that the more precise a device the better it is. And yet whilst we live lives peppered and larded with precision, we are not, when we come to think about it, entirely sure what precision is, or what it means. How and when did it begin to build the modern world? Simon Winchester seeks to answer these questions through stories of precision's pioneers. Exactly takes us back to the origins of the Industrial Age, to Britain where he introduces the scientific minds that helped usher in modern production: John 'Iron-Mad' Wilkinson, Henry Maudslay, Joseph Bramah, Jesse Ramsden, and Joseph Whitworth. Thomas Jefferson exported their discoveries to the United States as manufacturing developed in the early twentieth century, with Britain's Henry Royce developing the Rolls Royce and Henry Ford mass producing cars, Hattori's Seiko and Leica lenses, to today's cutting-edge developments from Europe, Asia and North America. As he introduces the minds and methods that have changed the modern world, Winchester explores fundamental questions. Why is precision important? What are the different tools we use to measure it? Who has invented and perfected it? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society?
This is the first monograph of a Liverpool-born artist who enjoyed a national reputation between 1930 and 1960. Published by the University of Liverpool Department of Art Collections in Autumn 1997, it is now also available from Liverpool University Press. Halliday is still remembered as a portrait painter, but he also worked successfully as a muralist, public speaker on art and design issues and as a radio and television broadcaster. All these aspects of Edward Halliday’s career are reviewed in the exhibition and catalogue Edward Halliday: Art for Life 1925–39 with a view to restoring a reputation that is richly deserved.