As the waters surge southward towards the Gulf, The New Yorker reprints John McPhee’s classic “Atchafalaya,” about the Army Corps of Engineers’ handiwork on the Mississippi River.  McPhee is possibly the greatest American non-fiction writer of the past fifty years and is renown for his ability to describe natural phenomena. One of the key takeaways from the article is that New Orleans simply wouldn’t exist in the form that it does were in not for the Corps pinning the river in place some years back.

Also this week appears to be the innovation issue.   James Surowiecki kicks it off by exploring the role of “venturesome consumers” in the innovation process. If it wasn’t for you guys trying new, possibly crappy and buggy and high-priced things, how would producers ever figure out what you like and how to deliver it?

OG Mouse

We’re also blessed with another Malcolm Gladwell piece, this time examining the development of the Apple mouse.  Click the mouse on the right for an on-line slideshow of various prototypes. In what will certainly be music to Professor Brandenberger’s ears, Gladwell chooses some money quotes from psychologist Dean Simonton, including

“Quality is a probabilistic function of quantity.”

Meaning, roughly

“The more successes there are, the more failures there are as well”

We also get a report on how Pepsi is taking on the obesity epidemic (didn’t read that one yet) and an expose on Pixar.

So, that should keep you busy for a while.