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The Most Important Innovations are Made by Teams

71r2IY98HwL._SL1500_Just published: The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson.

Businessweek: “The Innovators is a lightning round of the digital age, presenting invention after invention in mostly bite-size pieces. The stories are familiar, but combined they achieve a satisfying velocity. Isaacson’s central obsession is how to apportion credit for these miraculous helpmates, communications devices, and global networks. He investigates the cultures that incubated them and the tensions between the individual genius and the collaborative process. There’s a full clinical taxonomy of partnerships both pathological and close to perfect… Isaacson swiftly parses everyone’s contributions, a judge gaveling through a heavy caseload, weighing pure insight vs. technological know-how vs. just showing up. In a way, the book is about the complex lines of force and influence in male friendships, the egging each other on and ranking each other out.”

Wall Street Journal: “To his credit, Mr. Isaacson periodically suggests that we shouldn’t be thinking of lone geniuses, or even of self-sufficient imaginative individuals, at all but of the organizational forms within which innovation takes place. The book is historically organized by chapters on specific digital technologies— ‘The Computer,’ ‘Programming,’ ‘The Microchip,’ ‘Video Games,’ ‘The Internet,’ etc.—and, within each chapter, by accounts of the individuals who made significant contributions. But it’s most effective when it gets to grips with creative teams—groups whose ideas arose from exchanges among its members and whose inventiveness flowed from their differences in knowledge, skills, styles of working and temperament.”

San Francisco Chronicle: “Isaacson shows how vision, collaboration and social forces converged to advance computing at an ever-accelerating pace. He discredits the notion that geniuses working alone in their basements gave rise to 21st century technology. Instead, team efforts driven by collaboration and group chemistry made the biggest leaps.”

New York Times: “In many respects, the book could have been called ‘The Collaborators.'”