Steven Johnson, international bestselling expert on innovation and technology, shows us how much of the modern world has been shaped by the pursuit of fun.What connects Paleolithic bone flutes to the invention of computer software? Or the Murex sea snail to the death of the great American city? How does the bag of crisps you hold in your hand help tell the story of humanity itself? In his brilliant new work on the history of innovation, international bestseller Steven Johnson argues that if you want to understand the world today, you have to understand play and delight.
A staggering amount of the landscape of modern life is populated by environments and technology designed to entertain and delight us and the pursuit of novelty and wonder continues to be a powerful driver of world-shaping technological change.Most history books don't concern themselves with play and delight. History is the serious business of war, treaties, governments and monarchs; it is imagined as a battle for survival, for power, for freedom, for wealth. Wonderland is a different kind of history book.
Throughout history, Johnson locates the cutting-edge of innovation wherever people are working the hardest to keep themselves and others amused. He introduces us to the colourful innovators of leisure: The explorers, proprietors, showmen and artists who changed the trajectory of history with their luxurious wares, exotic meals, taverns, gambling tables and magic shows.Everyone knows the old saying 'necessity is the mother of invention', but if you carry out a paternity test on many of the modern world's most important ideas or institutions, you will find, invariably, that leisure and play were involved in their conception as well.