Steven Berlin Johnson examines the intersection of science, technology and personal experience.

Why you should listen

Steven Johnson is a leading light of today's interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to innovation. His writings have influenced everything from cutting-edge ideas in urban planning to the battle against 21st-century terrorism. Johnson was chosen by Prospect magazine as one of the top ten brains of the digital future, and The Wall Street Journal calls him "one of the most persuasive advocates for the role of collaboration in innovation."

Johnson's work on the history of innovation inspired the Emmy-nominated six-part series on PBS, "How We Got To Now with Steven Johnson," which aired in the fall of 2014. The book version of How We Got To Now was a finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. His new book, Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World, revolves around the creative power of play and delight: ideas and innovations that set into motion many momentous changes in science, technology, politics and society. 

Johnson is also the author of the bestselling Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, one of his many books celebrating progress and innovation. Others include The Invention of Air and The Ghost Map. Everything Bad Is Good For You, one of the most discussed books of 2005, argued that the increasing complexity of modern media is training us to think in more complex ways. Emergence and Future Perfect explore the power of bottom-up intelligence in both nature and contemporary society.

An innovator himself, Johnson has co-created three influential sites: the pioneering online magazine FEED, the Webby-Award-winning community site,, and the hyperlocal media site, which was acquired by AOL in 2011.

Johnson is a regular contributor to WIRED magazine, as well as the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and many other periodicals. He has appeared on many high-profile television programs, including "The Charlie Rose Show," "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."

What others say

“Johnson is a clear, lively writer with an aversion to jargon and a knack for crafting offbeat analogies.” — Washington Post

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4 critical mistakes that inventors make

November 5, 2014

The history of innovation isn’t a straight line, but a squiggly, winding path. In How We Got To Now, my new book and PBS documentary series, I highlight some of the creative mistakes that helped shape our world.

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