The Social Incubation of Ideas

In Creativity

From Johnnie Moore comes this insightul summary of Steven Johnson’s TED talk.  Johnson explores where and when ideas happen:

He focuses on two ways innovation successes are misreported and misunderstood.

First, people simplify their ideas as solitary, Eureka moments, whereas ideas often happen in social environments.

They also tend to abbreviate their stories of how ideas happened, whereas in fact lots of ideas have very long incubation periods (“the slow hunch”).

Darwin, for example, presented his theory of natural selection as one of these sudden insights, whereas researchers show he had the idea for months before his reported epiphany. He also explains how those dabbling on a side project to measure satellite trajectories evolves into what is now GPS. It’s a long term, non-linear story.

He also argues that these misconceptions partly justify ideas of intellectual property whereas perhaps we should be more interested in connecting ideas than protecting them.

2 Comments

  1. Hegemon

    Seriously though, the idea that we should be more interested in connecting ideas than protecting them is very provocative. It goes against entrenched copyright laws and the spirit of competitiveness. Great idea, but I’d like to see how it remains viable and sustainable outside of viral marketing and meme theory.

  2. Hegemon

    Hey, the SLOW HUNCH is a great concept. In a climate of austerity, it’s even PC — much better and less calorific than the slow lunch.

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