Steven Johnson is one of my favorite writers. He writes on many different subjects, as an outsider, but he makes everything so clear and easy to read.
Emergent phenomena in nature are some of the most interesting mysteries of our world. For a time, chaos and complexity theories were very popular, and research on emergent phenomena followed those theories. Johnson wrote this at the perfect time, after there were a couple of solid decades of very interesting work in these fields.
The popularity of these subjects have died down since this book, but I really wish they didn’t, because it’s still one of the most interesting topics I know of.
If you have no idea what chaos, complexity, or emergence theories are, you’re really missing out, and this book would be a great place to start digging into it.
There are so many topics that are directly important to our lives, but they’re also a bit of a chore to learn about. Emergence is fascinating without being directly useful. Having said that, I’m sure it’s just so mysterious that we humans do not yet know how to apply it ourselves. Nature utilizes these concepts, but learning about these things shows us how incredibly far behind nature we really are.