How We Got to Now

Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

How We Got to Now

From the New York Times–bestselling author of Where Good Ideas Come From and Farsighted, a new look at the power and legacy of great ideas. In this illustrated history, Steven Johnson explores the history of innovation over centuries, tracing facets of modern life (refrigeration, clocks, and eyeglass lenses, to name a few) from their creation by hobbyists, amateurs, and entrepreneurs to their unintended historical consequences. Filled with surprising stories of accidental genius and brilliant mistakes—from the French publisher who invented the phonograph before Edison but forgot to include playback, to the Hollywood movie star who helped invent the technology behind Wi-Fi and Bluetooth—How We Got to Now investigates the secret history behind the everyday objects of contemporary life. In his trademark style, Johnson examines unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated fields: how the invention of air-conditioning enabled the largest migration of human beings in the history of the species—to cities such as Dubai or Phoenix, which would otherwise be virtually uninhabitable; how pendulum clocks helped trigger the industrial revolution; and how clean water made it possible to manufacture computer chips. Accompanied by a major six-part television series on PBS, How We Got to Now is the story of collaborative networks building the modern world, written in the provocative, informative, and engaging style that has earned Johnson fans around the globe.

How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson - A 15-minute Summary

Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson - A 15-minute Summary

PLEASE NOTE: This is a summary of the book and NOT the original book. How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson - A 15-minute Summary Inside this Instaread Summary: • Overview of the entire book • Introduction to the important people in the book • Summary and analysis of all the chapters in the book • Key Takeaways of the book • A Reader's Perspective Preview of this summary: Chapter 1 Glass formed in the Libyan desert about twenty-six million years ago when grains of silica became superheated for some unknown reason. People began making ornaments from it about ten thousand years later. Still later, Roman artisans learned to make glass windows and drinking vessels from these early examples of glass. In 1204, Turkish glassmakers migrated to Venice, a major trade hub. The merchants of Venice happily began trading in this new commodity, but the high heat required for glassmaking kept sparking fires in the city. In 1291, the glassmakers were relocated to the island of Murano, where their creative community has thrived due to new levels of competition and shared innovation. Murano glassmakers developed crystal, an extremely clear glass that bends light very precisely. Monks in northern Italy used it to create the first eyeglasses. Other than monks, most people did not read, so there was little demand for glasses until Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press made books accessible in the 1440s. Other innovators began studying the properties of convex pieces of glass. In 1590, a father and son in the Netherlands invented the microscope, which British scientist, Robert Hooke, used in the next century to discover the cell, the building block for life. In 1608, Hans Lippershey patented a lens that magnified what a person was viewing through it. Galileo improved on the Lippershey’s design and, two years later, was using a telescope to challenge the assumption that all heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth. The printed word spread his ideas and helped pave the way for the Renaissance. One hummingbird effect of glass came from a quest to measure things. In 1887, British physicist, Charles Vernon Boys, created a thin fiber of glass to use as a balance arm. The new type of glass, which would come to be called fiberglass, was very strong. Within a hundred years, fiberglass was widely used in insulation, airplanes and computer circuits.

Summary of How We Got to Now

By Steven Johnson | Includes Analysis

Summary of How We Got to Now


Who We Are and How We Got Here

Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past

Who We Are and How We Got Here

David Reich describes how the revolution in the ability to sequence ancient DNA has changed our understanding of the deep human past. This book tells the emerging story of our often surprising ancestry - the extraordinary ancient migrations and mixtures of populations that have made us who we are.

Farsighted

How We Make the Decisions that Matter the Most

Farsighted

Plenty of books offer useful advice on how to get better at making quick-thinking, intuitive choices. But what about more consequential decisions, the ones that affect our lives for years, or centuries, to come? Our most powerful stories revolve around these kinds of decisions: where to live, whom to marry, what to believe, whether to start a company, how to end a war. Full of the beautifully crafted storytelling and novel insights that Steven Johnson's fans know to expect, Farsighted draws lessons from cognitive science, social psychology, military strategy, environmental planning, and great works of literature. Everyone thinks we are living in an age of short attention spans, but we've actually learned a lot about making long-term decisions over the past few decades. Johnson makes a compelling case for a smarter and more deliberative decision-making approach. He argues that we choose better when we break out of the myopia of single-scale thinking and develop methods for considering all the factors involved. There's no one-size-fits-all model for the important decisions that can alter the course of a life, an organization, or a civilization. But Farsighted explains how we can approach these choices more effectively, and how we can appreciate the subtle intelligence of choices that shaped our broader social history.

Everything Bad is Good for You

How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter

Everything Bad is Good for You

From the New York Times bestselling author of How We Got To Now and Farsighted Forget everything you’ve ever read about the age of dumbed-down, instant-gratification culture. In this provocative, unfailingly intelligent, thoroughly researched, and surprisingly convincing big idea book, Steven Johnson draws from fields as diverse as neuroscience, economics, and media theory to argue that the pop culture we soak in every day—from Lord of the Rings to Grand Theft Auto to The Simpsons—has been growing more sophisticated with each passing year, and, far from rotting our brains, is actually posing new cognitive challenges that are actually making our minds measurably sharper. After reading Everything Bad is Good for You, you will never regard the glow of the video game or television screen the same way again. With a new afterword by the author.

Florida Made

The 25 Most Important Figures Who Shaped the State

Florida Made

Florida is in many ways both the oldest and newest of the megastates. Once an insect-ridden swampland, it is now a top destination for tourism, business, agriculture and innovation. The ideas and actions of a colorful cast of characters--from beloved cultural icons to political heroes and even a socialist dictator--transformed the peninsula. A Barbados native rescued Florida's orange industry after the catastrophic 1835 freeze. Known as the "Grande Dame of the Everglades," Marjory Stoneman Douglas worked tirelessly to save the state's vast, incomparable wetlands from annihilation in the early twentieth century. In the mid-1800s, a Florida doctor developed a precursor to modern air conditioning. Join former U.S. senator George LeMieux and journalist Laura Mize as they profile and rank, according to impact, the twenty-five trailblazers who have changed the state forever.

Enemy of All Mankind

A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First Global Manhunt

Enemy of All Mankind

The New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Map and How We Got to Now returns with the story of a pirate who changed the world Most confrontations, viewed from the wide angle of history, are minor disputes, sparks that quickly die out. But every now and then, someone strikes a match that lights up the whole planet. Henry Every was the seventeenth century’s most notorious pirate. The press published wildly popular—and wildly inaccurate—reports of his nefarious adventures. The British government offered enormous bounties for his capture, alive or (preferably) dead. But Steven Johnson argues that Every’s most lasting legacy was his inadvertent triggering of a major shift in the global economy. Enemy of All Mankind focuses on one key event—the attack on an Indian treasure ship by Every and his crew—and its surprising repercussions across time and space. It’s the gripping tale one of the most lucrative crimes in history, the first international manhunt, and the trial of the seventeenth century. Johnson uses the extraordinary story of Henry Every and his crimes to explore the emergence of the East India Company, the British Empire, and the modern global marketplace: a densely interconnected planet ruled by nations and corporations. How did this unlikely pirate and his notorious crime end up playing a key role in the birth of multinational capitalism? In the same mode as Johnson’s classic non-fiction historical thriller The Ghost Map, Enemy of All Mankind deftly traces the path from a single struck match to a global conflagration.

How We Got to the Moon

The Story of the German Space Pioneers

How We Got to the Moon

Prologue by Konrad Dannenberg -- Hermann Oberth : the father of space travel -- The battle of the formulae -- From theory to experimentation -- Peenemunde : a scientific mobilization -- How the A-4 rocket became the V-2 -- Coming to America : Operation Paperclip -- The space age begins! -- Willy Ley rallies the nation for space -- Wernher von Braun : the Columbus of space -- Krafft Ehricke's extraterrestrial imperative.