I. Universal Patterns of Innovation
Interesting book I ran across recently on the universal "patterns" that seem to underlie innovation and invention . While the book is about much more than this, one core theme is the practice of discovery and what we might learn from looking at the practices of different inventors.
One way to take advantage of these patterns is to learn the rules of innovation. These rules are defined as the underlying talent, knowledge, and allocation of resources neccessary for innovation. Another lesson learned is to recognize there are at least three principles (better understood as personal styles) that define great inventions. These are:
1. Serendipity, or being able to exploit chance discoveries. William Shockley's work with semiconductors (leading to the transistor) best exemplifies this principle.
2. Proof-of-principle, or the 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration approach. Thomas Edison's work on the incandescent lightbulb best exemplifies this principle.
3. Inspired Exertion, or the greater than 1% inspiration approach. Jeff Hawkins' work in developing the Palm mobile computer best exemplifies this principle.
The third lesson that leads us to innovation is to study the designs of great innovators. See these Synthetic Daisies post from 2009 and 2011 on my own (evolving) thoughts on this topic.
II. The Origins of Innovation
 Alesso, H.P., Smith, C., and Burke, J. Connections: Patterns of Discovery. Wiley/IEEE Press (2008).
 Alicea, B. Innovation Class/Book. Synthetic Daisies blog, June 30 (2009) AND Alicea, B. In praise of repetition? Synthetic Daisies blog, April 11 (2011).
 The city is a literal city (particularly the mixing that occurs on city streets), the reef is a space that metaphorically resembles a coral reef (diverse individuals visit to feed and mingle), and the web is a network (made explicit in the internet).