Doubting Castle 3: Where good ideas come from?

Hi! I just watched Steven Johnson’s lecture on what and how spaces lead to unusual rates of creativity and innovation. It was an incredibly interesting video and very fun to watch as there were illustration while the whole idea was being explained. The video ended as what i think looks like a shape of a light bulb which is a universal symbol of an idea.

Johnson believes that there are recurring patterns in all systems that are essential to creating an environment for innovation. One of them, what he calls the “slow hunch”, is where an idea almost never comes in a moment of great insight but instead takes a long time to evolve into something better, bigger. He said that ideas usually spend a long time dormant in the background until it suddenly becomes accessible or useful to us.

“Good ideas usually come from the collision between smaller hunches

so that they form something bigger than themselves”.  -Steven Johnson

He used the example of the creation of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee as an example to prove that good ideas come from the combination of smaller ideas. His project, initially a side project to organise his own data, only evolved into the full vision of the WWW after ten years of innovation.

Johnson said that ideas spend a lot of time in the hunch form and need to collide with other hunches in order to turn in something big and important. This means, thinking of ways to create systems that will help hunches come together will aid people with half an idea to find its other half to form something big and important.

What i learned from this lecture is that before the emergence of a good idea, a space for people to easily mingle and swap ideas must  exist. I agree completely that whatever we have today almost never comes from the idea of one person. I think it’s totally true that it is the combination of “small hunches” that will lead to something big, important and maybe even life-changing.

So, maybe that is why there are always debates about who invented what.