counter How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery - Free Download Books
Hot Best Seller

How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery

Availability: Ready to download

As a technology pioneer at MIT and as the leader of three successful start-ups, Kevin Ashton experienced firsthand the all-consuming challenge of creating something new. Now, in a tour-de-force narrative twenty years in the making, Ashton leads us on a journey through humanity’s greatest creations to uncover the surprising truth behind who creates and how they do it. From As a technology pioneer at MIT and as the leader of three successful start-ups, Kevin Ashton experienced firsthand the all-consuming challenge of creating something new. Now, in a tour-de-force narrative twenty years in the making, Ashton leads us on a journey through humanity’s greatest creations to uncover the surprising truth behind who creates and how they do it. From the crystallographer’s laboratory where the secrets of DNA were first revealed by a long forgotten woman, to the electromagnetic chamber where the stealth bomber was born on a twenty-five-cent bet, to the Ohio bicycle shop where the Wright brothers set out to “fly a horse,” Ashton showcases the seemingly unremarkable individuals, gradual steps, multiple failures, and countless ordinary and usually uncredited acts that lead to our most astounding breakthroughs. Creators, he shows, apply in particular ways the everyday, ordinary thinking of which we are all capable, taking thousands of small steps and working in an endless loop of problem and solution. He examines why innovators meet resistance and how they overcome it, why most organizations stifle creative people, and how the most creative organizations work. Drawing on examples from art, science, business, and invention, from Mozart to the Muppets, Archimedes to Apple, Kandinsky to a can of Coke, How to Fly a Horse is a passionate and immensely rewarding exploration of how “new” comes to be.


Compare

As a technology pioneer at MIT and as the leader of three successful start-ups, Kevin Ashton experienced firsthand the all-consuming challenge of creating something new. Now, in a tour-de-force narrative twenty years in the making, Ashton leads us on a journey through humanity’s greatest creations to uncover the surprising truth behind who creates and how they do it. From As a technology pioneer at MIT and as the leader of three successful start-ups, Kevin Ashton experienced firsthand the all-consuming challenge of creating something new. Now, in a tour-de-force narrative twenty years in the making, Ashton leads us on a journey through humanity’s greatest creations to uncover the surprising truth behind who creates and how they do it. From the crystallographer’s laboratory where the secrets of DNA were first revealed by a long forgotten woman, to the electromagnetic chamber where the stealth bomber was born on a twenty-five-cent bet, to the Ohio bicycle shop where the Wright brothers set out to “fly a horse,” Ashton showcases the seemingly unremarkable individuals, gradual steps, multiple failures, and countless ordinary and usually uncredited acts that lead to our most astounding breakthroughs. Creators, he shows, apply in particular ways the everyday, ordinary thinking of which we are all capable, taking thousands of small steps and working in an endless loop of problem and solution. He examines why innovators meet resistance and how they overcome it, why most organizations stifle creative people, and how the most creative organizations work. Drawing on examples from art, science, business, and invention, from Mozart to the Muppets, Archimedes to Apple, Kandinsky to a can of Coke, How to Fly a Horse is a passionate and immensely rewarding exploration of how “new” comes to be.

30 review for How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery

  1. 5 out of 5

    Heidi The Reader

    How to Fly a Horse takes many of the myths that I believed about creativity or the creative process and methodically takes them apart. Any perceived creative blocks are revealed for the fallacies that they are. It is one of those great non-fiction books that educates the reader while simultaneously encouraging her to improve herself. From the creation of a South Park episode to Coca-Cola, Kevin Ashton covers all sorts of ways the average person can, does, and should contribute to mankind through How to Fly a Horse takes many of the myths that I believed about creativity or the creative process and methodically takes them apart. Any perceived creative blocks are revealed for the fallacies that they are. It is one of those great non-fiction books that educates the reader while simultaneously encouraging her to improve herself. From the creation of a South Park episode to Coca-Cola, Kevin Ashton covers all sorts of ways the average person can, does, and should contribute to mankind through her own, innate creativity. My biggest take-aways from this are Ashton's descriptions and appropriateness of creativity (or lack of) within organizations. He writes about humanity's need for the new while simultaneously pushing against it. Here's a quote about organizations that could be applied to any work place: "Organizations are made of rituals- millions of small, moments-long transactions between individuals within groups- and it is these rituals that determine how much an organization creates." pg 225 Be aware of these rituals and harness them to be more creative. And, on humanity's propensity to reject innovation, Ashton explains this is not unusual but is actually the normal response to expect when introducing new ideas into your work environment. Don't be discouraged; be prepared. Create anyway. I liked that he encouraged creation while also illuminating the many pitfalls, both internal and external, that one may encounter along the creative path. Folks who enjoy How to Fly a Horse may also like Leonardo's Brain: Understanding da Vinci's Creative Genius or any of Malcolm Gladwell's books. If you're looking for another book about how to be more productive or creative in the workplace, I suggest Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?. I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. FTC guidelines: check!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Elena Platonenko

    I talked to my mom the other day. She asked me to be prudent, because “we live in this terrible time, you know”. It’s a pity she doesn't read in English. Because I wish she could read this book and see we are amazing. Creativity is a unique trait inherent in every human being. It binds us and always drives us forward. “The human race’s niche is the niche of new.” “How to Fly a Horse” is a book that debunks common beliefs about creativity and shows what really leads to inventions and discoveries. I talked to my mom the other day. She asked me to be prudent, because “we live in this terrible time, you know”. It’s a pity she doesn't read in English. Because I wish she could read this book and see we are amazing. Creativity is a unique trait inherent in every human being. It binds us and always drives us forward. “The human race’s niche is the niche of new.” “How to Fly a Horse” is a book that debunks common beliefs about creativity and shows what really leads to inventions and discoveries. It is incredibly entertaining and easy to read. I actually couldn't put it down until the last page. An empowering revelation told in beautiful stories and backed up by serious research. Definitely read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    Kevin Ashton includes a lot of quirky stories in his How To Fly a Horse, about overcoming long odds, overcoming failure, overcoming ridicule, to come up with new products, inventions, and art. As a history, or a "secret" history, as the subtitle says, it's a bit of a jumble. On the other hand, as inspiration, it's not bad. The book reminds me of books for writers, such as Stephen King's On Writing, which has little practical advice, but leaves you eager to sit down and write a novel right away. A Kevin Ashton includes a lot of quirky stories in his How To Fly a Horse, about overcoming long odds, overcoming failure, overcoming ridicule, to come up with new products, inventions, and art. As a history, or a "secret" history, as the subtitle says, it's a bit of a jumble. On the other hand, as inspiration, it's not bad. The book reminds me of books for writers, such as Stephen King's On Writing, which has little practical advice, but leaves you eager to sit down and write a novel right away. And sometimes you don't need practical advice as you need a kick in the pants to get you moving. How to Fly a Horse fits that bill with almost relentless optimism and reminders that genius is not sudden inspiration but hard work and perseverance. The one less than optimistic note is the chapter that discusses Rosalind Franklin, whose work toward the discovery of DNA was stolen by Watson and Crick. Ashton doesn't pull any punches here and acknowledges that the true creators are sometimes pushed aside and it's the best self-promoters who get the credit. He dilutes his point by suggesting that Franklin would be pleased to know that her discovery has helped to save the lives of many people, regardless of who was responsible. He also reminds us that Franklin's discovery rested, as every other discovery, on the work of those who went before. Ashton's main message is to get in there and keep trying. Eventually you'll succeed. Probably.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Josh Friedlander

    The thrust of this TED talk-like business school pablum is "anyone can be creative", and this (almost surely false) point is hammered in over and over by a series of repetitive anecdotes. The thrust of this TED talk-like business school pablum is "anyone can be creative", and this (almost surely false) point is hammered in over and over by a series of repetitive anecdotes.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    Disclosure: I won a copy of this book as part of a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway. I was so intrigued when I saw the title of this book, and then even more so when I read the summary. I don’t know about you but it takes the right kind of writing to make non-fiction enjoyable for me. Ashton does a great job of making me a smarter person without me having to work at it. Inventors and the stories behind their creations make for very interesting subjects in this book. Many of us have fleeting moment Disclosure: I won a copy of this book as part of a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway. I was so intrigued when I saw the title of this book, and then even more so when I read the summary. I don’t know about you but it takes the right kind of writing to make non-fiction enjoyable for me. Ashton does a great job of making me a smarter person without me having to work at it. Inventors and the stories behind their creations make for very interesting subjects in this book. Many of us have fleeting moments of brilliance, but it takes a special person to follow-through with those light bulb moments and see them to fruition. Also, sometimes a person’s original intentions, by turn of events, leads to an unexpected outcome…. ultimately resulting in the “happy accident” invention that we all would love to stumble upon. Ashton covers a wide spectrum of creative successes (and misses), from widely popular inventions, to the quirky and bizarro, entertaining and educating readers simultaneously.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Megan Hall

    The basic premise for this book was engaging and interesting: that creativity is not a thing that magically happens, but rather the product of much work and trial and error. The book could have been half the length though, which would have allowed for much less repetition - after two chapters I already felt I'd been beat about the head by the author's argument. I skimmed the stories that seemed most interesting, but couldn't bring myself to closely read most of the book. The most enjoyable part The basic premise for this book was engaging and interesting: that creativity is not a thing that magically happens, but rather the product of much work and trial and error. The book could have been half the length though, which would have allowed for much less repetition - after two chapters I already felt I'd been beat about the head by the author's argument. I skimmed the stories that seemed most interesting, but couldn't bring myself to closely read most of the book. The most enjoyable part of the book was reading the histories of the various creative discoveries and endeavors.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Jeckell

    It made a convincing (though anecdotal) argument that action, not natural talent, leads to success. It was refreshing to see all the bullshit about creativity blown away, particularly that creativity is a reserved activity for a few or that creativity requires some kind of mystical, unquantifiable techniques to work. There was a lot of great stuff in this book, but it used a lot of narratives and anecdotes that occasionally conflicted. [Edit-> new material] He makes a good case that everyone has It made a convincing (though anecdotal) argument that action, not natural talent, leads to success. It was refreshing to see all the bullshit about creativity blown away, particularly that creativity is a reserved activity for a few or that creativity requires some kind of mystical, unquantifiable techniques to work. There was a lot of great stuff in this book, but it used a lot of narratives and anecdotes that occasionally conflicted. [Edit-> new material] He makes a good case that everyone has the potential for creativity, but that the key ingredient is drive and the disposition to weather negative feedback. Not everyone can do those two things. Most people (often including myself) are satisficers, who do enough to get by, and not the mythically rational optimizers assumed in classical economics. And most people have difficulty bucking their peers and facing the brunt of criticism. There is also a lot of good material about how everything we create is based upon a foundation of previous work, infrastructure, and knowledge accumulated by generations of people, and all too often most of the important ones go unrecognized. In fact, he makes a pretty interesting argument that recognition for innovation is actually harmful through misplaced credit, behavior at obtaining undeserved credit, and the dampening effects of external motivation that robs autonomy and dampens unconventional ideas. But the ideas described for optimizing creativity here have major limitations. He focuses on individual efforts (a bit paradoxical considering his earlier snort about how all creativity is collaborative) and small teams. He goes on and on about the wonderful Skunk Works at Lockheed Martin and the virtues of small teams. And these certainly have their uses for certain classes of problems, but will only reap the low-lying fruit stopping there. He is completely wrong about large organizations, which can benefit from economies of scale which allow specialization and expertise to develop. Yes, over time these organizations turn into a thicket and are very difficult to adapt as conditions change, but during their prime you literally can't compete with them (at least a well run large organization) doing what it formed to do. Most of the really worthwhile things to do require the cooperation of large groups of people to see it through. This is one of the key things that differentiate humans from chimpanzees--to form impersonal cooperation with strangers at a large scale. This is also a critical difference between industrialized countries, such as the US, UK, Germany, Japan, etc. from elsewhere in the world--(see "Liars and Outliers" https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... and "Why Nations Fail" https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... on the role of trust and corruption on the ability to cooperate at high levels). [->End Edit] The most glaring example came in the final chapter where the author slammed planning and meetings in a way that rounded up clichés and stereotypes and trotted them out to support his case. For example: "Much of what happens in internal meetings is called "planning," but planning is of limited value, because nothing ever goes according to plan." I would counter by quoting Eisenhower, who said "Plans are useless, planning is everything." He goes on to say how engineering plans are important in getting a product built, but those are *doing* not *saying*. This clearly betrays his confusion about what planning is really for (to be fair, many organizations call a lot of bullshit planning that really isn't either.) Planning developing a shared understanding and aligning action to a common purpose, just like engineering plans. And just like engineering plans, you prepare for and make adjustments when you run into setbacks. What he is describing is dogmatism. Not many organizations can get by with making things up as they go along, particularly with complicated projects that have a lot of interactions and interfaces. His recommendation in the last chapter runs out of gas pretty quickly when you deal with anything but the simplest of achievements. This is also one of the areas where he contradicted himself. Earlier in the book he described a painter that painted thousands of iterations of the same painting before finally using that experience and insight to produce the final masterpiece. Good planning is like that for groups. Overall there was a lot of useful things to think about in this, and it was unfortunate it left me irked with the last chapter.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Some of mankind’s greatest creations and inventions have not been discovered in the way that people think; rather than the ‘eureka’ moment where something suddenly makes sense, the process is a series of small steps and failures as the design or idea is refined. In this book, Ashton, draws on various examples and anecdotes to bring us the history of invention. The orchid that produces the vanilla pod is a wonderful thing, the exotic flavour from the pods are used in so many things now, ice cream Some of mankind’s greatest creations and inventions have not been discovered in the way that people think; rather than the ‘eureka’ moment where something suddenly makes sense, the process is a series of small steps and failures as the design or idea is refined. In this book, Ashton, draws on various examples and anecdotes to bring us the history of invention. The orchid that produces the vanilla pod is a wonderful thing, the exotic flavour from the pods are used in so many things now, ice cream being the obvious, but you will find its scent in famous perfumes. Until the middle of the nineteenth-century no one knew how the flowers were fertilised, or if there was a way that they could improve this artificially. It was a small boy who demonstrated that they could be fertilised very simply and gave birth to the multi-million dollar industry that we have today. He explores just how man learnt to fly, hence the title of the book, with the foolhardy parachutists of Paris to the Wright brothers who solved each problem of flight before tackling the next. There are examples of critical breakthroughs that individuals had, like the re-invention of the vacuum cleaner and the development of the stealth bomber after one engineer decided to prove that it was possible. This was a really enjoyable and accessible read for those interested in the creative process. I particularly liked the chapter on the can of coke where he shows just how many countries and processes are required to get the 330ml of soft drink in your fridge. Ashton is best known for the invention of the phrase ‘internet of things’, and phrase that many have not come across as yet, but will hear of soon. In this he blows some myths out of the water about the creative process, demonstrating just how the iterative method is so much better. He also describes how creative type struggle in the corporate world where uniformity and blandness are celebrated rather than genuine innovation and development. Overall a very interesting book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Candice Landau

    The last time I enjoyed a work of nonfiction this much was Creativity Inc. 'How to Fly a Horse' is more than a history of Creativity. it's a guide to mastering it and noticing it in every day life. It's a book suited to every man who considers himself creative and every man who doesn't - scientists and non scientists alike. Why? because the truth is, we are all creative. If you like learning about a subject through the medium of stories, each of which has a nugget of take-home advice and which f The last time I enjoyed a work of nonfiction this much was Creativity Inc. 'How to Fly a Horse' is more than a history of Creativity. it's a guide to mastering it and noticing it in every day life. It's a book suited to every man who considers himself creative and every man who doesn't - scientists and non scientists alike. Why? because the truth is, we are all creative. If you like learning about a subject through the medium of stories, each of which has a nugget of take-home advice and which fit within the overall theme, this is a great book! HIghly recommended!!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carl Rannaberg

    Very good book about how creativity works, how to encourage it in yourself and in an organization. Has many great stories from history for context.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    This book is so interesting! It has me reconsidering the way I think and how I approach ideas, problems, projects, and feedback. While I don't agree with everything Kevin Ashton writes here, it has a lot of fascinating history and valuable insights that debunk common misconceptions about the creative process and how it applies to individuals and societies. I will definitely be reading this again sometime. This book is so interesting! It has me reconsidering the way I think and how I approach ideas, problems, projects, and feedback. While I don't agree with everything Kevin Ashton writes here, it has a lot of fascinating history and valuable insights that debunk common misconceptions about the creative process and how it applies to individuals and societies. I will definitely be reading this again sometime.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laura Martinelli

    This ending up being a “Let’s just skim through the last few chapters beause really this isn’t doing anything for me.” I don’t think that overall this is a terrible book, but definitely not really what I’m particularly interested in and not for me. It’s basically a business book disguised as pop psychology/sociology, and I don’t think that a lot of the arguments made for creativity are as insightful or as in-depth as it thinks it is. For example, the chapter on scrapping ideas and bringing up th This ending up being a “Let’s just skim through the last few chapters beause really this isn’t doing anything for me.” I don’t think that overall this is a terrible book, but definitely not really what I’m particularly interested in and not for me. It’s basically a business book disguised as pop psychology/sociology, and I don’t think that a lot of the arguments made for creativity are as insightful or as in-depth as it thinks it is. For example, the chapter on scrapping ideas and bringing up that Stephen King regularly “deletes a thousand or so words from his manuscript!” Yeah, it’s called “editing” and King himself also talks about this process in On Writing, namely “taking everything that isn’t the story out.” Nearly every professional writer edits. This isn’t revolutionary. There are also really random digressions in Ashton’s examples that don’t really add to his points, and feel like they’re reaching at times. (Perhaps Ashton should have taken a page from King’s creative process.) I also don’t like it—and this goes for a lot of books with similar ideas (GLADWELL)—because it’s a very narrow viewpoint on the nature of what makes a “creative genius.” Ashton tries to make his arguments wide-reaching, but it’s still very focused on a specific narrative that completely ignores factors like race and class into proving his argument. (I.e. “Oh, saying you have no time is just an excuse!”) And sorry, when you say “Well this researcher was TOTALLY RACIST but we’re still going to talk about them and completely ignore the reason why they may have missed creative genius,” I really doubt your arguments. (And sorry, but no, just because you have begin your book focusing on Edmond Albius, who revolutionized the vanilla pollination process and a chapter talking about Rosalind Franklin and women screwed over in history but still don’t talk about privilege in creativity, you don’t get a free pass.) In conclusion, the writing and viewpoints made it not for me.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mukesh Emes

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. In this book Kevin Ashton shares so many delightful stories of where great inventions come from and how things came to be. He start the book with the story of Edmond Albius, a slave boy who discovered at the age of 12 that the Vanilla plant could be hand-pollinated. Ashton reveals the secrets of the great scientists, artists, and industrialists of the last few centuries. Through all these stories the author is trying to say that, the secret behind all these creations are not mystical powers or i In this book Kevin Ashton shares so many delightful stories of where great inventions come from and how things came to be. He start the book with the story of Edmond Albius, a slave boy who discovered at the age of 12 that the Vanilla plant could be hand-pollinated. Ashton reveals the secrets of the great scientists, artists, and industrialists of the last few centuries. Through all these stories the author is trying to say that, the secret behind all these creations are not mystical powers or insights but countless efforts, series failures and zero distraction. It is not as simple as how Archimedes got the idea of the famous "Archimedes' principle." The author is giving a message that, there are no secrets, no shortcuts but with the help of positive thinking and countless effort anyone can bring something new to the world. This is really a great book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brooke Barnhardt

    There is no magic or myth to creation or discovery. It's just ordinary people taking ordinary steps - trial and error to get to greatness. There is no such thing as a genius – in fact Ashton believes they do not exist. And for him, there is no eureka moment either – most, if not all, inventions and discoveries have come from a process of refinement or inheritance. For Ashton, there is no secret, only hard work – and he gives interesting examples like building the first US fighter jet, James Dyson There is no magic or myth to creation or discovery. It's just ordinary people taking ordinary steps - trial and error to get to greatness. There is no such thing as a genius – in fact Ashton believes they do not exist. And for him, there is no eureka moment either – most, if not all, inventions and discoveries have come from a process of refinement or inheritance. For Ashton, there is no secret, only hard work – and he gives interesting examples like building the first US fighter jet, James Dyson, Woody Allen, Trey Parker & Matt stone, Frank Oz & Jim Henson, Steve Jobs, and more. It's the American dream where anyone can succeed given the right environment and passion!

  15. 5 out of 5

    James

    This is a book I'd enjoy listen too again. Lots of antidotes and explanations on the logic behind how creativity happens, pushing through it and getting a result. The two best sections for me were: 1: The artist who painted the same canvas 20+ times until he got the pattern of applying the colors in the consistency needed to get the colors desired. 2: The description / perception around writers block. Never thought of writers block in the manner presented and found a great way to get over it. This is a book I'd enjoy listen too again. Lots of antidotes and explanations on the logic behind how creativity happens, pushing through it and getting a result. The two best sections for me were: 1: The artist who painted the same canvas 20+ times until he got the pattern of applying the colors in the consistency needed to get the colors desired. 2: The description / perception around writers block. Never thought of writers block in the manner presented and found a great way to get over it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Smith

    I might have a literary crush on Kevin Ashton. In all seriousness, it is rare to find writers that simultaneously capture deep knowledge across a range of topics and industries and do so in a cohesive manner. Kevin Ashton has done so in eloquently organized and fascinating chapters on the creative process in "How To Fly A Horse." The level or research needed to weave the chapters of this book is an impressive endeavor to say the least, and unlike many business books Mr. Ashton's dispels the myths I might have a literary crush on Kevin Ashton. In all seriousness, it is rare to find writers that simultaneously capture deep knowledge across a range of topics and industries and do so in a cohesive manner. Kevin Ashton has done so in eloquently organized and fascinating chapters on the creative process in "How To Fly A Horse." The level or research needed to weave the chapters of this book is an impressive endeavor to say the least, and unlike many business books Mr. Ashton's dispels the myths of creative genius with stories you wish your grandpa would have told you. Read it!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rakib Jahan

    History teaches us a lot about mankind. The author drives book through different lanes of the history to prove certain points. The main message is simple, Find your passion and devote yourself to work. Creativity is not magic. It is simply the result of consistent trying and thinking. The author nailed to send the message clearly. Do not expect it to be some magic book which will unlock your creativity. It is not. That is on you

  18. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Creation is not extraordinary, even if its results sometimes are. Creation is human. It is all of us. It is everybody. My uncle gave me this book to read, offering me any amount of money to read it, and I told him I'd read it free of charge. After discovering that it was nonfiction, I regretted my comment a little. Nonfiction is not something I reach for. You can probably tell that considering this is my first book on my nonfiction shelf. This isn't because it's not good but because I Creation is not extraordinary, even if its results sometimes are. Creation is human. It is all of us. It is everybody. My uncle gave me this book to read, offering me any amount of money to read it, and I told him I'd read it free of charge. After discovering that it was nonfiction, I regretted my comment a little. Nonfiction is not something I reach for. You can probably tell that considering this is my first book on my nonfiction shelf. This isn't because it's not good but because I read to escape reality, not hear about the horrible things going on around me. I hear about that enough at school and on the news. However, this one wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be. I was worried that this book was going to be very science-oriented. I am not a big fan of science. I used to love science fiction as genre, but I've found myself gravitating away from it because sometimes I just don't feel like working my brain to think about it. However, this book is less about science and more a collection of anecdotes about creators and inventors and how they struggled and came out with a legendary creation. It was actually really interesting to read at times. I learned a lot of fun facts in this book. One of my favorites was a study done with moneys called "The Nature of Love," which proved that a baby monkey would rather be with a soft fake mother money than with a wire surrogate that gave them food. The monkeys would rather have love than food. It was such an interesting concept to me. There were many other stories like this that just piqued my interest and made me think. I also love how open-minded the author is. He never said anything that made me roll my eyes or cringe. He talks a lot about women and how many women (in the science field especially) would create things and their husband would get the credit. He stressed how vital it was that everyone is able to create, which made me very happy. He also called out this guy for saying that white people are the only race that can fall into the "X" category of super geniuses. None of this would have happened, or it would have happened later if women were still barred from science—not because they are women but because they are human and, thus, as likely to create, invent, or discover as anybody else. The same is true of people who are black, brown, or gay. A species that survives by creating must not limit who can create. More creators means more creations. Equality brings justice to some and wealth to all. My only complaints with this book is that sometimes it felt a little too repetitive for my liking. I get very annoyed when I have to repeat things more than two or three times, or when someone repeats something to me a few times. Also, there were times when I don't know how Ashton got to a topic. He'd be talking about monkeys one second and airplanes the next. Other than that, it was a good book. It's obvious that Ashton is a very intelligent man with lots of good points. He also didn't go into this without doing his research. With more than fifty pages of just notes and sources, the extensive research he put into this shows. I'm glad the first nonfiction book I read wasn't horrible, ruining the genre for me.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    How to Fly a Horse is a good dive into the world of creativity research and the origins of where ideas come from. This book targets human creativity in general and doesn't attempt to answer what makes an idea accepted, important, or innovated but simply addresses where the bulk of ideas come from in terms of raw human creativity. The first act the author does is poke irreparable holes in the canon of how creativity "is supposed to work". He quickly dismantles the scaffolding of tying it to intell How to Fly a Horse is a good dive into the world of creativity research and the origins of where ideas come from. This book targets human creativity in general and doesn't attempt to answer what makes an idea accepted, important, or innovated but simply addresses where the bulk of ideas come from in terms of raw human creativity. The first act the author does is poke irreparable holes in the canon of how creativity "is supposed to work". He quickly dismantles the scaffolding of tying it to intelligence, inspiration, or environment and repeatedly shows that the best predictor of output is simply time and effort. No more and no less. The author musters considerable research in doing so. Notes I liked: -Mozart worked terribly hard at what he did. The notions that ideas just came to him while he was walking and he simply wrote them down stems from a forged letter. -Creativity and IQ are largely uncorrelated. -Woody Allen has written or directed (often both) some 50 films because he's working at it all the darn time. -Switching tasks away from solving a problem and then coming back to the problem later provides no improvement in the ability to solve the problem. -Creativity is much more widely held than considered. There are billions upon billions of tiny changes that have brought us to modernity and no small handful of people is responsible for all of them. As for the writing, I felt the author often used literary cliches and was a bit melodramatic with the presentation. The turns of phrase were too numerous but some were quite good.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Becky Taunton

    I read this book in two days flat, and loved it so much that it gave me energy! I spent the whole thing torn between reading on and immediately putting it down and going off to create, fail and create something all over again for myself. How To Fly A Horse is a wonderful mix of psychology, sociology and anecdotes of personal struggles and triumphs made by creators throughout history. Creators that range from scientists to puppet makers. The main aim of the book, in my eyes, is to reassure the read I read this book in two days flat, and loved it so much that it gave me energy! I spent the whole thing torn between reading on and immediately putting it down and going off to create, fail and create something all over again for myself. How To Fly A Horse is a wonderful mix of psychology, sociology and anecdotes of personal struggles and triumphs made by creators throughout history. Creators that range from scientists to puppet makers. The main aim of the book, in my eyes, is to reassure the reader that genius is a myth; that creation requires hard graft and passion as opposed to flashes of (mythical) inspiration. The author does this brilliantly. The book left me feeling capable of anything, as long as I'm willing to accept that the act creation is not easy and often not fun or extraordinary. The only extraordinary thing about creation is the product it sometimes brings into the world. Products like this book. Testimony to the book's effectiveness in altering a person's mindset? I've never done a book review before. Didn't think one written by me would be worth reading! =)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Zaki Shaheen

    The book started off as really good, establishing the premise which I hold very close to my heart: There is no such thing as genius and 'eureka' - its all a process and we build up on what others have done. It takes an anecdotal path towards the point and gives several examples. Yet I feel that the author takes it too far with anecdotes that it starts to get boring. At one point during chapter 5 or 6, the author goes at lengths about women's inclusion in universities and then later at lengths ab The book started off as really good, establishing the premise which I hold very close to my heart: There is no such thing as genius and 'eureka' - its all a process and we build up on what others have done. It takes an anecdotal path towards the point and gives several examples. Yet I feel that the author takes it too far with anecdotes that it starts to get boring. At one point during chapter 5 or 6, the author goes at lengths about women's inclusion in universities and then later at lengths about processes of coke and other details - which completely distracts the reader away from the main point. I left the book at around Chapter 8 primarily because it started taking some jumps of faith devoid of science. Experiments such a making 4 groups, giving and not giving incentive and then 'judging' their 'creative' output is really not the kind of thing I agree with. You cannot test creativity in a controlled randomized experiment. Even if you do, the judgement can't be conclusive. At best, I'd want to repeat those experiments in different configurations again and again to find some truth. But overall, a good book if you are into Gladwellish anecdote and such.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Allison Ball

    I could hardly put this book down. I loved all the back stories to inventions and innovations that are hardly thought about. Kevin's style of writing was very fluid; he presented so many interesting facts and correlations that what could have been a boring read, was actually very entertaining. As a side note, I found it a bit annoying that evolution was thrown into the book so many times and yet everything Kevin had to say sounded so very Christian. I'm surprised he did not have some sort of ep I could hardly put this book down. I loved all the back stories to inventions and innovations that are hardly thought about. Kevin's style of writing was very fluid; he presented so many interesting facts and correlations that what could have been a boring read, was actually very entertaining. As a side note, I found it a bit annoying that evolution was thrown into the book so many times and yet everything Kevin had to say sounded so very Christian. I'm surprised he did not have some sort of epiphany writing so much about creation and creating. It seemed everything he had to say on creating and creation related well to the Christian perspective, since it can hardly be separated from the topic anyway. I honestly thought he was a Christian, until evolution reared it's ugly head for the first time in the book. After that, I had to keep reminding myself he wasn't a Creationist. Anyway, all of this just made the book all the more interesting. I highly recommend this book to everyone. Enjoy!

  23. 4 out of 5

    SundayAtDusk

    Kevin Ashton has a glorious video online for this book. In less than two minutes, the video nicely sums up what he's trying to say about creation in How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery. His main message is: "Creating is not magic but work." In his opinion, anyone can create. As he states: "Creating is not rare. We are all born to do it. If it seems magical, it is because it is innate. If it seems like some of us are better at it than others, that is becau Kevin Ashton has a glorious video online for this book. In less than two minutes, the video nicely sums up what he's trying to say about creation in How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery. His main message is: "Creating is not magic but work." In his opinion, anyone can create. As he states: "Creating is not rare. We are all born to do it. If it seems magical, it is because it is innate. If it seems like some of us are better at it than others, that is because it is part of being human, like talking and walking. We are not all equally creative, just as we are not all equally gifted orators or athletes. But we all can create." In addition: "There is no electric fence between those who can create and those who cannot, with genius on one side and the general population on the other." I could go on and on quoting this book, namely because I highlighted so much of it. This is the first book I have highlighted since college. Besides having many highlightable ideas, Mr. Ashton provides many interesting stories about people who have created, invented, discovered in the fields of agriculture, science, medicine, education, business, the arts, etc.. The only thing that made the book glow less yellow for me is the extensive attention on Woody Allen. Like others, he sees Woody Allen as an incredibly talented writer, with an unbeatable passion for his work. Woody Allen reminds me of a workaholic who probably stays so focused on work in order not to deal with the bad things in his personal life. Ah, but Mr. Ashton did say: "Passion is energy; if it is not aimed at creating, it causes harm." That was in a section where he mentioned Woody Allen, too. I do hope, though, this book is advocating hard work and dedication, not justifying workaholism or harm caused to others, particularly children. Will Kevin Ashton's book inspire people? I would be surprised if it did not. But I don't think it will inspire everyone; especially those who do hope to create, invent or discover in a magical way; or those who need to feel superior to others; or those who need to believe they were specifically chosen by God to do something incredibly astounding. The author points out how it is misleading to give credit to individuals who create. He says: "Creation is a chain reaction: thousands of people contribute, most of them anonymous, all of them creative." I think this would be at least an interesting book for most people to read, though. Over the last few decades, so much of critical thinking seems to have been replaced by magical thinking; so this book is in some ways like a type of reality therapy. As the author states in the first chapter: "Magic is instant, genius an accident of birth. Take them away and what is left is work." Afterthoughts--December 10th: Sleep. No one sleeps in this book. That was the first thought in my mind this morning when I woke up. Often after writing a book review at night, I wake up the next morning with new ideas about the book that I did not consider when I wrote the original review. These ideas are often more insightful than my original ideas about the book. If I did not already post the review, I easily change my draft. If it is posted, I have to change the posted review or add afterthoughts. That is what I'm doing now. And I'm always grateful for the insights I seem to have acquired while sleeping. Of course, those insights may have existed in the shadows of my mind before I went to sleep, but sleeping obviously pushed them out of the shadows into the daylight. No one sleeps in this book. Anyone who was sleeping and came up with something truly creative while sleeping did no such thing. The stories about such things are untrue, according to Mr. Ashton. They are myths. It's interesting to note he did not tackle the story of Elias Howe, one of the inventors of the sewing machine, who is said to have discovered where to place the eye of a the needle in a dream, where he was going to be killed by savages if he did not build a workable sewing machine. Mr. Ashton believes daydreams can produce creative results, but not night dreams. Going back over the book, for the first time I noticed how many times Kevin Ashton said inventing and creating was often an all day and all night thing; up early in the morning, up late at night, if there's any sleep at all; that's how things are invented and created; that's the standard operating procedure of those who are successful creators. But is it? Mr. Ashton is a very successful inventor, from what I've read; and he wrote an excellent book, which I read and mostly loved; so, he should know what it takes to be a success at creating. Yet, while I missed it the first reading time, I couldn't help but notice the following quote the second time: "If you are fully immersed in your creative life and the crossroads have long left your rearview mirror, be affirmed. The friends, mothers, fathers, other relatives, therapists, colleagues, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-husbands, and ex-wives who said you were crazy and you work too hard and you will never make it and you need more balance were wrong, as are the ones who still do." Thus, stand forewarned, creators--while your creative life may be a stunning success, your personal life may be a major mess! Personally, I like the idea of being creative and getting enough sleep that I can wake up the next day fully rested, and have many new writing thoughts that I will bring to life on paper or screen when nightfall arrives again. Sleep is good. Dreaming can be good, too. That reminds me--one more quote from Kevin Ashton that I loved in this book: "If we do not chase our dreams, they will pursue us as nightmares." True, but nightmares can be caused by many others things, too, such as what is going on in one's personal life. Avoiding sleep to avoid nightmares is not the best idea in the world. Executing that idea is even less smart. (Note: I received a free ARC of this book from Amazon Vine.)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Femina Ernest

    "How to Fly a Horse" - Summation of fascinating stories and motivational thoughts, via proved successful person's history as witnesses. Really we need to appreciate Kevin Ashton, for the home work what he had done, for this book. It's awesome. Starting with Edmond's Vanilla Ice creation invention, this book grows with stunning historic facts & success strategies. Few thoughts which inspired me are, * Creating is not magic but work. * We need Love like we need Air * Open all veins and bleed it - "How to Fly a Horse" - Summation of fascinating stories and motivational thoughts, via proved successful person's history as witnesses. Really we need to appreciate Kevin Ashton, for the home work what he had done, for this book. It's awesome. Starting with Edmond's Vanilla Ice creation invention, this book grows with stunning historic facts & success strategies. Few thoughts which inspired me are, * Creating is not magic but work. * We need Love like we need Air * Open all veins and bleed it - no secrets in creation etc. The way he explains, Creative Children and High IQ children comparison is good. But, Still it arises few contradictions. When he says about Nazism and Hitler, Productive thinking, Genius theory & 'There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact., I nodded my head as an acceptance of his view on it. :) Overall, everyone should read and experience this book. It tells few things to us, which we may fail at times to notice on success way.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Santhosh

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. There is no magic to create or discover.This non-fictional book talks about how to attain greatness with nothing but trial and error process. Luck is not the way we should do it, its hardwork which pays us the most. When we give our 110% luck may kick in automatically but hard work is the key.This book has few back stories of successful people who believed in hardwork and not luck.I did feel like getting smarter while reading this book. This book has a whole lot of facts which were very new to m There is no magic to create or discover.This non-fictional book talks about how to attain greatness with nothing but trial and error process. Luck is not the way we should do it, its hardwork which pays us the most. When we give our 110% luck may kick in automatically but hard work is the key.This book has few back stories of successful people who believed in hardwork and not luck.I did feel like getting smarter while reading this book. This book has a whole lot of facts which were very new to me. To produce something worth, all we have to do is to hold on to the will to fail many times.I would rate this book with a 4 star and would highly recommend this to anyone who would like to know how to do , effectively.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Abilash Amarasekaran

    This is a really great book. It touches on the points which personally I have thought of and gives rational explanation for each of them. eg I learned from personal experience that when stuck on a problem to seek help from people who are not at all related to the problem I am working on. This is explains why freshers have the most creative idea. I have been working towards to developing myself to not be one tracked mind ie do one thing over and over again like a machine. Branching out and doing This is a really great book. It touches on the points which personally I have thought of and gives rational explanation for each of them. eg I learned from personal experience that when stuck on a problem to seek help from people who are not at all related to the problem I am working on. This is explains why freshers have the most creative idea. I have been working towards to developing myself to not be one tracked mind ie do one thing over and over again like a machine. Branching out and doing different things tends to keep the mind very fresh and very creative. We should also try to learn and try to keep our mind creative and question what we see and what we do not see. I hope everyone reads it and understands that we are all dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    The author, Kevin Ashton, made a point that creativity and invention are not the products of rare geniuses but a result of hard work. They are not magical but built from the results of previous work in the current generation and usually many generations before. He argues that being creative and always trying to make things better are the innate traits in all of us. Kevin made his points through interesting stories in creativity, inventions and discoveries that many people might not have heard of The author, Kevin Ashton, made a point that creativity and invention are not the products of rare geniuses but a result of hard work. They are not magical but built from the results of previous work in the current generation and usually many generations before. He argues that being creative and always trying to make things better are the innate traits in all of us. Kevin made his points through interesting stories in creativity, inventions and discoveries that many people might not have heard of. The title "How to Fly a Horse" is apparently taken from one of the stories about the Wright Brothers who described one of the key problems they have to solve in their pursuit of man-made flight was balancing the wobbling machine in mid-air.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Vikram Kalkura

    Don't believe in luck. It might favour you at times but not always. It's hard work that brings you the results and not luck. Hard work with creativity and dedication can get you to great heights and achieve what you are looking or aiming for. Loved all the stories and examples he gave and also were unique. I have heard most of those examples the first time. Kevin Ashton explains all of these in a lovely manner and made me feel that even I am capable to do anything and also successful. I had to Don't believe in luck. It might favour you at times but not always. It's hard work that brings you the results and not luck. Hard work with creativity and dedication can get you to great heights and achieve what you are looking or aiming for. Loved all the stories and examples he gave and also were unique. I have heard most of those examples the first time. Kevin Ashton explains all of these in a lovely manner and made me feel that even I am capable to do anything and also successful. I had to cross reference his examples in Google so many times since they were really fascinating stories. Everyone has creative mind, we just need to get it out :-)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeffery

    "How To Fly A Horse" is an entirely different kind of book. It’s one of intrigue and inspiration, of creation and revolution. The book tells stories in a manner unmatched by any book of its kind. It’s a conception about creation, the history of innovation’s progress, which may be redundant. I loved the stories. I loved the messages. I loved the sheer enormity of it all. I loved it’s simpleness. I loved how easy he made creating sound, but also saying it is hard work, and getting that message. Th "How To Fly A Horse" is an entirely different kind of book. It’s one of intrigue and inspiration, of creation and revolution. The book tells stories in a manner unmatched by any book of its kind. It’s a conception about creation, the history of innovation’s progress, which may be redundant. I loved the stories. I loved the messages. I loved the sheer enormity of it all. I loved it’s simpleness. I loved how easy he made creating sound, but also saying it is hard work, and getting that message. The book is inspiring, touching, maddening, disheartening, and motivational all at once. Yes, quite contradictory terms, but that’s what makes this book so special.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tabitha Donaghue

    This book is amazing. The stories are engaging, and while you can generally tell what the overall ‘moral’ will be, often the insights are presented in such a simple, open hearted way that I cried a couple of times. It returns something of the magic of childhood to the dry old adult brain, reminds you to breathe, prods you to be creatively courageous and tenaciously devoted to your work. It is a work of encouragement.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.