Steven Johnson is the author of Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World. From the transcript of his interview with Fareed Zakaria:
ZAKARIA: So the basic argument of this book seems to be that fun is incredibly productive, innovative and changes the world?--Marshal Zeringue
JOHNSON: Yeah, and we have this tendency, when we think about what are the forces that are driving history, to assume that those forces are the desire for conquest and power or affluence or survival. And that is obviously part of the story. But it turns out that, really, a surprising amount of change in society, both technological innovation and political change, social change, comes out of this other side of our humanity, which is the desire to be delighted or amused or to be in this kind of playful state. And many things that start as toys and games end up triggering all these changes that you would never, kind of, anticipate from the start.
ZAKARIA: So some of this is even just things like wanting to have a cup of coffee?
ZAKARIA: Explain how that translates into something much bigger?
JOHNSON: So coffee comes to the European capital, particularly to London, around 1650, 1660, and tea arrives right around the same time. And this is important partially, we should say, just because it changed the diets of Europeans who had basically been drinking alcohol all day long. They would drink beer for breakfast...[read on]