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'Ghost Map' author, technology historian Steven Johnson to discuss work in Sept. 11 presentation

Friday, Sept. 5, 2014


MANHATTAN — Author Steven Johnson will go beyond the pages of his best-selling book "The Ghost Map" — the 2014 common book at Kansas State University — when he presents "The Ghost Map: How One Doctor Changed the World by Listening to His Patients" at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11, in McCain Auditorium.

The event is free, but tickets are required. Kansas State University students, faculty and staff can get a ticket with a valid university ID at the McCain Auditorium box office, while members of the public can get tickets at the Manhattan Public Library, 629 Poyntz Ave. Overflow seating will be available in the K-State Student Union.

In his talk, Johnson will discuss his 2006 book in which two unlikely allies — a physician and a reverend — turned London's most deadly cholera epidemic into a scientific breakthrough that transformed human civilization.

"Steven Johnson is one of the world's foremost historians of innovation. He studies how and why our thinking changes, especially our ideas about science and technology," said Greg Eiselein, professor of English and director of K-State First, the university's program for first-year student success. "'The Ghost Map' tells the remarkable story of how two very different individuals faced a terrifying epidemic and challenged the dominant ideas and prejudices of their era to find a solution."

Selected as the university's 2014 common book by the Kansas State Book Network, which is part of the K-State First program, "The Ghost Map" is required reading of all the university's first-year students.

Johnson's work on the history of innovation has inspired a six-part series to air this fall on PBS, "How We Got to Now with Steven Johnson," which will explore the power and the legacy of great ideas, why and how ideas happen and their sometimes unintended results.

Along with "The Ghost Map," Johnson is the author of the best-selling book "Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation." His other books include "The Invention of Air," "Everything Bad Is Good For You," "Emergence" and "Future Perfect." He also is the editor of "The Innovator's Cookbook," serves as a contributing editor to Wired magazine and has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Nation and more.

"I'm very excited that Steven Johnson is coming to talk about his book. Hearing about the story from the author’s lips will help bring the story to light. I've already been contacted by students wanting to get their book signed," said Tara Coleman, associate professor at K-State Libraries and chair of the Kansas State Book Network.

"His talk also is just one of the ways to get involved with 'The Ghost Map' this year," Coleman said. "We have some great lectures by K-State faculty, as well as the campuswide 'Mapping The Ghost Map,' an eight-week online adventure game to find Patient Zero and discover solutions before time runs out."

A full listing of events related to the "Ghost Map" being offered this fall is available at http://www.k-state.edu.ksbn/events.html.

As the university's 2014 common book, "The Ghost Map" is a great illustration of how students and faculty from all disciplines can work together to solve today's problems, said Karin Westman, professor and head of the English department and publicity chair for the Kansas State Book Network.

"The story that Steven Johnson tells in 'The Ghost Map' reminds us that creative, interdisciplinary thinking helps us improve our everyday lives," Westman said. "By looking back to the past of 19th-century London, we can find ways to resolve contemporary global concerns about sustainability, community health, city infrastructure, and civic engagement."

The Kansas State Book Network is "tweeting down" to Johnson's visit, offering daily recaps of "The Ghost Map" via Twitter, https://twitter.com/kstatebknetwork, and on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-State-Book-Network-KSBN/108137402564709


Greg Eiselein

Tara Coleman

Karin Westman


Kansas State Book Network

News tip

Barber County and Manhattan


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Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson, the author of the "The Ghost Map," will discuss his best-selling book at a Sept. 11 appearance at Kansas State University. "The Ghost Map" is the university's 2014 common book.

At a glance

The best-selling author of Kansas State University's 2014 common book, "The Ghost Map, will speak at the university. Steven Johnson's presentation will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11, in McCain Auditorium. Tickets are required.