Posts from Steven Berlin Johnson

Two Must Read Books For The AVC Community

There are many themes that grace this page from time to time. Two of the most common are the rise of startup communities and the role that the Internet can play in allowing society to governing itself. And there are two books out this week that are must reads on these two topics. Further and in full disclosure, they are written by two very good friends. No conflict no interest as it were.

Let's start with Startup Communities by Brad Feld. I met Brad in 1996. He had just moved to Boulder Colorado and was going to help build a startup community there by building a market leading VC firm in Boulder. Sounds audacious? Yes. But he did it. As I was working on the same idea for the past sixteen years in NYC, I was able to watch a parallel universe forming in Boulder with Brad at the center.  In Startup Communites, Brad tells us what he's learned from that experience and how the same thing can be done elswhere. If you want to create a Boulder or NYC tech scene in your community, this is your roadmap, bible, and textbook. You can get it on Kindle today and or pre-order the book for delivery next week.

On to Future Perfect by Steven Johnson. Back in the Spring, Steven emailed me a draft of this book. I put the PDF on my Kindle and started reading. I found myself yelling Yes, Yes, Yes as I was making my way through the chapters. I know most, if not all, of the stories in this book. I have been involved in some of them and have followed the others closely. Those stories tell me that there is a "case for progress in a networked age" and Steven makes that case as only he can, by telling the stories brilliantly and then wrapping the meaning of them together in a crisp, cohesive, and easy to understand narrative that leaves you with a framework to take out in the world. You can get Future Perfect on Kindle or in hardback right now as it was published earlier this week.

The comment thread on my Get Out The Vote post a couple days ago was downright depressing and full of anger and cynicism. So for all of you and everyone else, here is a short 3 min video from Steven talking about the ideas in his book and where they are going. If you need a shot of optimism this morning, watch it.

#Books#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Steven Johnson at Elisabeth Irwin High School Next Monday

All of my kids have attended Elisabeth Irwin High School in NYC. The school was founded by Elisabeth Irwin 90 years ago. In commemoration of the 90th anniversary, they are doing a speaker series with noted thinkers, artists, authors, and activists.

When the school asked me last year for ideas of people who could speak about big ideas in and around the subject of technology, the first person I thought of was my friend Steven Johnson. One thing led to another and Steven said yes and he will be at Elisabeth Irwin HS next Monday night.

Steven has been hard at work finishing a new book called Future Perfect. I've read the early version and it is a fantastic treatise on the potential for technology and the Internet to lead us to a new political worldview. Talk about big ideas!

There are something like 60 seats available at the time of this post for next monday night's talk. The ticket price is $20. If you'd like to attend, go here and buy a ticket online. You can also call to get a ticket. Details are here. I hope to see you there.


Where Good Ideas Come From

I've been reading my friend Steven Johnson's new book Where Good Ideas Come From. Steven gave me an advance copy of the book. It is available for pre-order at Amazon [kindle here] and it will be released on October 5th.

I hope Steven is not a stranger to any of you. His books over the past decade are some of my favorites and his take on the intersection between technology, science, society, culture, and innovation is unique and important.

Good Ideas (as I call it) is an examination of the sources of creativity in all of us. It is a deeply scientific book but it reads more like a narrative, which is one of Steven's gifts. He tells wonderful stories about science.

I've been pulling quotes from the book for several weeks onto my tumblog (aka my commonplace book). If you follow me on Tumblr, you will have seen a number of them. I will keep doing that until I finish the book which may happen this week.

Steven showed me this four minute video last week on his iPad. It is an excellent (and whimsical) summary of the book and has all of the core concepts in it.

Steven gave a talk about Good Ideas at TED Oxford in July. TED just posted it to the web today. Here it is. It is worth watching if you have the time (17 mins long). If you watch it all the way to the end you'll hear a great story about the invention of GPS.

Good Ideas is as close to a must read for this audience as there is. It has informed and amplified my thinking about innovation and creativity and I am sure it will do the same for you.

#Books#VC & Technology#Web/Tech