If you want to be innovative, you need to put yourself into innovative environments: places where lots of contradictory ideas from many disciplines are crossing paths, where institutions and governments don’t over-regulate or conspire to crush new ideas; where existing platforms stand ready to have new platforms built atop them, as TCP/IP, SGML and various noodling experiments over many decades let Tim Berners-Lee invent the Web (itself a platform that many others invent atop of).

This is stirring stuff: a strong defense of open networks, shared ideas, serendipity (he even cites Boing Boing as a counter to doomsayers who say that the net’s directed search creates a serendipity-free echo chamber) and minimal control over ideas so that they can migrate to those who would use them in ways their “creators” can’t conceive of. These are axioms for many of us who grew up with the Internet and the Web, but to see these axioms defended with reference to history, paleontology, evolutionary biology, urban planning, and other diverse disciplines is heartening indeed.