Johnson at South by Southwest in 2008
Steven Berlin Johnson
June 6, 1968
|Alma mater|| Brown University (B.A., Semiotics, 1990) |
Columbia University (M.A., English Literature)
|Occupation||Author, TV presenter|
Steven Berlin Johnson (born June 6, 1968) is an American popular science author and media theorist.
Steven grew up in Washington, D.C.,where he attended St. Albans School. He completed his undergraduate degree at Brown University, where he studied semiotics, a part of the school's modern culture and media department. He also has a graduate degree from Columbia University in English literature.
Johnson is the author of nine books, largely on the intersection of science, technology, and personal experience. He has also co-created three influential web sites: the pioneering online magazine FEED, the Webby Award-winning community site, Plastic.com, and most recently the hyperlocal media site outside.in.A contributing editor to Wired , he writes regularly for The New York Times , The Wall Street Journal , The Financial Times , and many other periodicals. Johnson also serves on the advisory boards of a number of Internet-related companies, including Medium, Atavist, Meetup.com, Betaworks, and Patch.com.
He is the author of the best-selling book Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter (2005), which argues that over the last three decades popular culture artifacts such as television dramas and video games have become increasingly complex and have helped to foster higher-order thinking skills.
His book Where Good Ideas Come From advances a notion to challenge the popular story of a lone genius experiencing an instantaneous moment of inspiration. Johnson instead argues that innovative thinking is a slow, gradual, and very networked process in which "slow hunches" are cultivated, and completed, by exposure to seemingly unrelated ideas and quandaries from other disciplines and thinkers. He lists the themes he has identified from studying which environments and conditions have been correlated, historically, with high innovation. He argues that they make theoretical sense because of their tendency to effectively explore the "adjacent possible", Stuart Kauffman's concept (which Johnson cites) of the space of innovations waiting to be made from combining immediately-available notions and solutions.
His book Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age was released in September 2012.
In August 2013, PBS announced that Johnson would be the host and co-creator of a new six-part series on the history of innovation, How We Got to Now , scheduled to air on PBS and BBC Two in Fall 2014.
Since May 2018, Johnson has hosted the podcast American Innovations, created by Wondery.
In 1997, Harvey Blume reviewed Johnson's first book, Interface Culture, and called it "a rewarding read -- stimulating, iconoclastic, and strikingly original."
The A.V. Club said in a review of Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, "It's a good argument made in great detail, mapped out with lists and charts of decision-affecting contingencies and intricate narrative structures. But how necessary it is remains debatable, especially once Everything Bad settles into simply restating its already convincing premise."
David Quammen reviewed The Ghost Map (2006) for The New York Times , writing, "There's a great story here, one of the signal episodes in the history of medical science, and Johnson recounts it well... His book is a formidable gathering of small facts and big ideas, and the narrative portions are particularly strong, informed by real empathy for both his named and his nameless characters, flawed only sporadically by portentousness and small stylistic lapses." He called the book, and Johnson, "intriguing" and "smart."
Entertainment Weekly gave The Ghost Map an 'A' rating, saying, "The Ghost Map asks the reader to imagine a situation in which 'you could leave town for a weekend and come back to find 10 percent of your neighbors being wheeled down the street in death carts.' For inhabitants of mid-19th-century London, cholera rendered this apocalyptic vision a terrifying reality... Johnson traces the courageous and ultimately successful attempt by an anesthetist/scientist/sleuth named John Snow to discover how the disease was transmitted. And he does so in a way that brings to nightmarish, thought-provoking life a world in which a swift but very unpleasant death can be just a glass of water away."
Author Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, in The Los Angeles Times , called 2010's Where Good Ideas Come From "a vision of innovation and ideas that is resolutely social, dynamic and material" and "fluidly written, entertaining and smart without being arcane," -- "a Renaissance alchemical guide."Bruce Ramsey described in The Seattle Times how, in Where Good Ideas Come From, "Johnson is looking for the new ideas in our civilization and seeking to explain why they arise where they do."
Kirkus Reviews called Good Ideas a "robust volume that brings new perspective to an old subject" and said of Johnson, "Throughout, his infectious enthusiasm and unyielding insight inspire and entertain."The Sunday Telegraph said, "Like all good ideas, this book is bigger than the sum of its parts... Johnson enlivens his argument with stories and examples that bring personality and depth to his ideas, and make for an engaging read..."
Oliver Burkeman, in a review of Future Perfect, described the book as "a wide-ranging sketch of possibilities, not a detailed policy prescription, and read as such, it's frequently inspiring. Above all, it's exciting to reflect on the possibility that the many achievements of the Silicon Valley revolution might be compatible, rather than in tension, with a progressive focus on social justice and participatory democracy."
Ethan Gilsdorf, also reviewing Future Perfect, called it "a buoyant and hopeful book" with "clear and engaging prose."
Johnson's book Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software was a finalist for the 2002 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism.
His Where Good Ideas Come From was a finalist for the 800CEORead award for best business book of 2010, and was ranked as one of the year's best books by The Economist .[ citation needed ] His book The Ghost Map was one of the ten best nonfiction books of 2006 according to Entertainment Weekly , and was runner up for the National Academies Communication Award in 2006.[ citation needed ] His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.[ citation needed ]
He was the 2009 Hearst new media professional-in-residence at Columbia Journalism School, and served for several years[ when? ] as a distinguished writer in residence at New York University's Journalism School.[ citation needed ] He won a Newhouse School Mirror Award for his 2009 TIME magazine cover article "How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live". He has appeared on television programs such as The Colbert Report , The Charlie Rose Show , The Daily Show with Jon Stewart , and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer .[ citation needed ]
After growing up in Washington, D.C. and graduating from St. Albans School in 1986, Johnson moved to New York City in 1990 and spent twenty-one years there, living in Morningside Heights, Manhattan for seven years, then the West Village, where his first son was born.Johnson writes that, on September 11, 2001, he and his wife "watched the Twin Towers fall from Greenwich Street on our son's first day home from the hospital. When our second son was on the way, we decamped for Brooklyn..."
In 2010, interviewer Oliver Burkeman wrote that "Johnson, who lives with his wife Alexa Robinson and their three sons in Brooklyn... gives around 50 lectures a year, and writes plenty of high-profile opinion columns, all of which he has accomplished by the not-exactly-ancient age of 42. (While we're on the topic, he also has an enormous 1.4 million followers on Twitter...)"
In a 2011 blog, he wrote that he and his family would be leaving New York "for a few years" as they would be "moving to Marin County, on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge across the bay from San Francisco" — "a two-year move: an adventure, not a life-changer."
Johnson talks about a near-death experience in his 2004 book Mind Wide Open. He and his wife lived in "an apartment in a renovated old warehouse on the far west edge of downtown Manhattan," a home with "a massive eight-foot-high window looking out over the Hudson River" where they often enjoyed the view. On a June afternoon, they watched "an especially severe storm" approaching. Within minutes, the storm smashed the window, of which they were not directly in front during the crisis. 47:
He has written that he has some difficulty with visual encoding, "a trait that I seem to share with Aldous Huxley," whom Johnson quotes at greater length in Mind Wide Open than cited here: "I am and, for as long as I can remember, I have always been a poor visualizer. Words, even the pregnant words of poets, do not evoke pictures in my mind. No hypnagogic visions greet me on the verge of sleep. When I recall something, the memory does not present itself to me as a vividly seen event or object. By an effort of the will, I can evoke a not very vivid image of what happened yesterday afternoon..." 235:
|Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate||1997||ISBN 978-0-06-251482-0|
|Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software||2001||ISBN 978-0-684-86875-2||Emergence|
|Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life||2004||ISBN 978-0-7432-4165-6||Cognitive neuroscience|
|Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter||2005||ISBN 978-1-57322-307-2||Popular culture; Video games|
|The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic—and How it Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World||2006||ISBN 978-1-59448-925-9||1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak; John Snow|
|The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and the Birth of America||2008||ISBN 978-1-59448-852-8||Joseph Priestley|
|Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation||2010||ISBN 978-1-59448-771-2||Innovation|
|Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age||2012||ISBN 978-1-59448-820-7||"Peer progressives"|
|How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World||2014||ISBN 978-1-59463-296-9|
|Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World||2016||ISBN 978-1-5098-3729-8||"Johnson’s play is a combination of novelty, leisure, and pleasure"|
|Farsighted: How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most||2018||ISBN 978-0-73521-160-5||Decision-making|
|Enemy of All Mankind: A true story of piracy, power, and history's first global manhunt||2020||ISBN 978-1-59448-821-4||Politics|
Robin Dale Hanson is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University and a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. He is known as an expert on idea futures and markets, and he was involved in the creation of the Foresight Institute's Foresight Exchange and DARPA’s FutureMAP project. He invented market scoring rules like LMSR used by prediction markets such as Consensus Point, and has conducted research on signalling.
Malcolm Timothy Gladwell is a Canadian journalist, author, and public speaker. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. He has published six books: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000); Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005); Outliers: The Story of Success (2008); What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (2009), a collection of his journalism; David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (2013); and Talking To Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know (2019). His first five books were on The New York Times Best Seller list. His sixth book, Talking to Strangers, was released in September 2019. He is also the host of the podcast Revisionist History and co-founder of the podcast company Pushkin Industries.
Geoffrey Kloske is the vice president and publisher of Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Group. He served as vice president and executive editor of Simon & Schuster from 1998 to 2006. Previously, he was an editor at Little, Brown and Company from 1992 to 1996. He has edited authors such as David Sedaris, Dave Eggers, Bob Dylan, Sarah Vowell, Jon Ronson, Nick Hornby, James McBride (writer), and Mark Kurlansky.
The free-culture movement is a social movement that promotes the freedom to distribute and modify the creative works of others in the form of free content or open content without compensation to, or the consent of, the work's original creators, by using the Internet and other forms of media.
The 48 Laws of Power (1998) is a non-fiction book by American author Robert Greene. The book is a bestseller, selling over 1.2 million copies in the United States, and is popular with prison inmates and celebrities.
Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter is a non-fiction book written by Steven Johnson. Published in 2005, it is based upon Johnson's theory that popular culture – in particular television programs and video games – has grown more complex and demanding over time and is making society as a whole more intelligent. The book's claims, especially related to the proposed benefits of television, drew media attention. It received mixed critical reviews.
Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran is an award-winning correspondent for The Economist.
Daniel H. Wilson is a New York Times best-selling author, television host and robotics engineer. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon. His books include the award-winning humor titles How to Survive a Robot Uprising, Where's My Jetpack? and How to Build a Robot Army and the bestseller Robopocalypse.
The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How it Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World is a book by Steven Berlin Johnson in which he describes the most intense outbreak of cholera in Victorian London and centers on John Snow and Henry Whitehead.
Carlo Ratti is an Italian architect, engineer, inventor, educator and activist. He is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he directs the MIT Senseable City Lab, a research group that explores how new technologies are changing the way we understand, design and ultimately live in cities. Ratti is also a founding partner of the international design and innovation office CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, which he established in 2004 in Torino, Italy and now has a branch in New York City, United States. Ratti was named one of the "50 most influential designers in America" by Fast Company and highlighted in Wired Magazine's "Smart List: 50 people who will change the world."
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom is a book by Harvard Law School professor Yochai Benkler published by Yale University Press on April 3, 2006.
LessWrong, also written as Less Wrong, is a community blog and forum focused on discussion of cognitive biases, philosophy, psychology, economics, rationality, and artificial intelligence, among other topics.
Looper is a 2012 American science fiction action film written and directed by Rian Johnson, and produced by Ram Bergman and James D. Stern. It stars Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt. It revolves around "present-day" contract killers called "loopers" hired by criminal syndicates from the future to terminate victims whom they send back through time.
Scott Goodson is founder and chairman of StrawberryFrog, a global cultural movement firm and the author of the book UpRising: How to Build Your Brand and Change the World by Sparking Cultural Movements. He has worked with leading worldwide brands, including Ikea, Pfizer, Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Mitsubishi, Smart, and Microsoft. In his book Uprising, he argues that “movement marketing” is the best—and perhaps only—way for companies to connect with consumers in the age of social media, and when done effectively the interaction between companies and consumers can lead to positive social change.
Steven Kotler is an American author, journalist, and entrepreneur. His articles have appeared in over 70 publications, including The New York Times Magazine, LA Times, Wired, Time Magazine, GQ, Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, Details and National Geographic Adventure. He is best known for his non-fiction books, including the New York Times bestseller Abundance, A Small Furry Prayer, West of Jesus, Bold, The Rise of Superman and Stealing Fire.
Nick Bilton is a British-American journalist and author. He is currently a special correspondent at Vanity Fair.
Scott D. Anthony is an author and senior partner at growth strategy consulting firm Innosight.
Paul Dolan, is Head of Department and Professor of Behavioural Science in Psychological and Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is Director of the Executive MSc in Behavioural Science which began in September 2014. Dolan conducts research on the measurement of happiness, its causes and consequences, and the implications for public policy, publishing in both scholarly and popular outlets. He has previously held academic posts at York, Newcastle, Sheffield and Imperial and he has been a visiting scholar at Princeton University. He is the author of two popular press books: Happiness by Design and Happy Ever After.
Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age (2012) is a non-fiction book published in 2012 by American best-selling author Steven Berlin Johnson. In this book, Johnson presents a new political worldview he names “peer progressivism.” This idea promotes collaboration amongst peers and the development of peer networks for the purpose of accomplishing large undertakings and ultimately helping society grow and change for the better.
Farsighted: How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most (2018) is a non-fiction book by American journalist Steven Johnson.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Steven Johnson (author) .|