Steven Johnson (author)

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Steven Johnson
Steven Berlin Johnson - South by Southwest 2008 crop.jpg
Born(1968-06-06) June 6, 1968 (age 45)
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Steven Johnson
Steven Berlin Johnson - South by Southwest 2008 crop.jpg
Born(1968-06-06) June 6, 1968 (age 45)
Official website

Steven Berlin Johnson (born June 6, 1968) is an American popular science author and media theorist.


Steven Johnson attended St. Albans School as a youth. He completed his undergraduate degree at Brown University, where he studied semiotics,[1][2] a part of Brown's modern culture and media department.[3] He also has a graduate degree from Columbia University in English literature.


Johnson is the author of eight books on the intersection of science, technology and personal experience. He has also co-created three influential web sites: the pioneering online magazine FEED, the Webby-Award-winning community site,, and most recently the hyperlocal media site A contributing editor to Wired, he writes regularly for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and many other periodicals. Johnson also serves on the advisory boards of a number of Internet-related companies, including Medium, Atavist,, Betaworks, and

He is the author of the best-selling book, Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter (2005), which argues that over the last three decades popular culture artifacts such as television dramas and video games have become increasingly complex and have helped to foster higher-order thinking skills.

His recent book, Where Good Ideas Come From, advances the notion that innovative thinking is a slow and gradual process based on the concept of the "slow hunch" rather than an instant moment of inspiration. He expostulates on Stuart Kauffman's concept of the "adjacent possible" which enables the thinker to develop uncharted insights into unexplored areas.

His book Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age was released in September 2012.[4]

In August 2013, PBS announced that Johnson would be the host and co-creator of a new six-part series on the history of innovation, How We Got to Now, scheduled to air on PBS and BBC Two in Fall 2014.[5]

Awards and honors[edit]

Johnson's book Where Good Ideas Come From was a finalist for the 800CEORead award for best business book of 2010, and was ranked as one of the year's best books by The Economist. His book The Ghost Map was one of the ten best nonfiction books of 2006 according to Entertainment Weekly, and was runner up for the National Academies Communication award in 2006. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Johnson was the 2009 Hearst New Media Professional-in-Residence at Columbia Journalism School, and served for several years as a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University's Journalism School. He won a Newhouse School Mirror Award for his TIME magazine cover article "How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live." He has appeared on many high-profile television programs, including The Colbert Report, The Charlie Rose Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

Personal life[edit]

Steven Johnson is married and has three sons. He lives with his family in Marin County, California.


TitleYearISBNSubject matter
Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate1997ISBN 978-0-06-251482-0
Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software2001ISBN 978-0-684-86875-2Emergence
Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life2004ISBN 978-0-7432-4165-6Cognitive neuroscience
Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter2005ISBN 978-1-57322-307-2Popular culture; Video games
The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic—and How it Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World2006ISBN 978-1-59448-925-91854 Broad Street cholera outbreak; John Snow
The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and the Birth of America2008ISBN 978-1-59448-852-8Joseph Priestley
Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation2010ISBN 978-1-59448-771-2Innovation
Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age2012ISBN 978-1-59448-820-7"Peer progressives"

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Bio at
  2. ^ Pogrebin, Robin. "In a Multimedia Realm Where Book Meets Blog" New York Times" (December 4, 2006)
  3. ^ Modern Culture & Media, Brown University web page.
  4. ^ Johnson, Steven (September 18, 2012). Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age. Penguin (Riverhead). ISBN 9781594488207. 
  5. ^ "How We Got To Now" on the PBS website

External links[edit]