Author Steven Johnson’s new book, The Invention of Air, is, on the one hand, a supple examination of the man largely credited with the discovery of oxygen. On the other, it’s a subtle reminder of the intellectual glories of bygone days when great thinkers mastered numerous fields, not merely one.
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How are the discovery of oxygen, the founding of the Unitarian Church and ecosystem science linked? Author Steven Johnson tells the story of scientist and theologian Joseph Priestley, a protege of Benjamin Franklin and friend of Thomas Jefferson, in The Invention of Air.
Steven Berlin Johnson is a writer and entrepreneur who writes on the history of ideas. His books have included Everything Bad is Good for You, which suggested that contemporary popular culture is more challenging to the mind than it’s accused of being, and The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic—and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World, which tracked the spread of cholera in London in the mid-19th century as a way to understand the networked modern city. His newest book, The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution and the Birth of America tracks the life of the 18th century writer and scientist Joseph Priestley, and how his story can help us learn about the growth and development of ideas. Johnson also created the news discussion site plastic.com and the hyper-local site outside.in.
Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy by Lawrence Lessig, Shepard Fairey and Steven Johnson
What is the future for art and ideas in an age when practically anything can be copied, pasted, downloaded, sampled, and re-imagined?
LIVE from the NYPL and WIRED Magazine kick off the Spring 2009 season with a spirited discussion of the emerging remix culture. Our guides through this new world—who will take us from Jefferson’s Bible to André the Giant to Wikipedia—will be Lawrence Lessig, author of Remix, founder of Creative Commons, and one of the leading legal scholars on intellectual property issues in the Internet age; acclaimed street artist Shepard Fairey, whose iconic Obama "HOPE" poster was recently acquired by the National Portrait Gallery; and cultural historian Steven Johnson, whose new book, The Invention of Air, argues that remix culture has deep roots in the Enlightenment and among the American founding fathers.