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CityU Library Reviews “How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery”
Review by Tammy Salman, Associate Director of Instruction
“Creation is destination, the consequence of acts that appear inconsequential by themselves but that, when accumulated, change the world” (p. 23).
How does something get invented or created? Is it like a light bulb going on? A random thought that turns into something phenomenal overnight? While it might appear that great inventors, thinkers, artists, and scientists are born with some kind of gift, Kevin Ashton shows us that creation is less a gigantic leap and more an incremental process that involves a lot of testing, failure, and determination.
In How to fly a horse, we get an impressively researched view of how some of the world’s most well-known, and lesser-known (though no less important), folks accomplished great things through a mix of inspiration and persistence. Ashton shows that intellectual genius and creativity are not two sides of the same coin, that ideas and creative ability can come from anyone anywhere in the world, no matter their upbringing.
Stories about ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary feats or making life-changing discoveries abound. From the Wright brothers’ revelation that a popular coefficient used to determine wing/lift ratios was incorrect, to the discovery of how crystals form, to the young slave boy who figured out how to pollenate vanilla plants, How to fly a horse opens the door to the complexities of human thought processes, which lead us from ideas to actions to creation and invention.
How to fly a horse: The secret history of creation, invention, and discovery. Ashton, Kevin. 2015. New York, NY: Doubleday. 336 pages. Check WorldCat.org to find a copy at the library closest to you.
Tammy’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5
There are a variety of disciplines which might benefit from exploring the themes discussed in How to fly a horse. For example:
Business, management, leadership: The stories about discoveries and inventions are replete with scenarios useful in business and organizations. In fact, there is an entire chapter devoted to creating organizations and the creative process among groups. There is an interesting story about how Coca-Cola came to be a global brand. It brings up a variety of organizational issues, such as supply chains, global trade, manufacturing, and sustainability.
Interdisciplinary courses: There is a little of everything in this book, whether you are studying philosophy, education, psychology, history, science, or just want some thought-provoking ideas and people to discuss in class.
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- How to fly a horse: The interactive companion to the book by Kevin Ashton.
- Maney, K. (2015, March 6). Meet Kevin Ashton, father of the Internet of Things. Newsweek, 164
- Original Design Challenge. (2014). Peter Skillman Marshmallow Design Challenge. See also Marshmallow Challenge Transcript (TED 2010). In this challenge, teams of four must build the tallest freestanding structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow (which must be on top). Of all the groups Skillman tested, from CEOs, business students, lawyers, and other executives, “Kindergartners, on every objective measure, have the highest average score of any group I’ve ever tested.”
- Rupp, R. (2014, October 23). The history of vanilla. This is an amazing orchid with an impressive history that is anything but plain.
CityU Library book reviews feature materials relevant to academic programs. Each review includes curriculum connections and a list of related resources. We hope you enjoy learning and discovering new resources with us!
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