Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ideas and innovations

If you like lists, Steven Johnson's Where Good Ideas Come From (a splendid read) includes an appendix that lists key innovations, 1400-2000. Double-entry accounting is the first entry. Whereas economists and social scientists have come up with some good ideas too, they do not make the list. When does an idea become an innovation?

In this week's New Yorker, Adam Gopnik does a fine job of discussing Adam Smith ("Market man: What Adam Smith really believed"; gated) and does a fine job.

Today's LA Times has a front-page story about Don Shoup and his thoughts on prices (and the neglect thereof) and parking. Don is getting the recognition he deserves and, the piece notes, even beginning to change the world. Smith and Shoup can even be seen as innovators insofar as they have a hand in making the world better.