I have been a TED fan for quite some time, and the last months I have been asking myself more and more: where do all these ideas come from?

I mean, from a neurological point of view, can you really say an idea is something that – Eureka! – ‘pops up’ in someone’s brain? Is there suddenly something there – a deep understanding of the working of the economy , the aspiration to write a book about happiness, the dream to meet a personal hero, the idea to call a friend you haven’t seen for a while?

For some of these, possibly yes. But for others, the deep scientifc insights are not just randomly born in someone’s mind. These ideas develop when great thinkers let other people reflect on them. Ideas develop when great minds meet and engage in dialogue. Ideas grow in idea networks. And therefore, coffee houses are great incubators for ideas, as Steven Johson explains.