Johnson is the author of nine books, largely on the intersection of science, technology, and personal experience. He has also co-created three influential web sites: the pioneering online magazine FEED, the Webby Award-winning community site, Plastic.com, and most recently the hyperlocal media site outside.in. A contributing editor to Wired, he writes regularly for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and many other periodicals. Johnson also serves on the advisory boards of a number of Internet-related companies, including Medium, Atavist, Meetup.com, Betaworks, and Patch.com.
He is the author of the best-selling book Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter (2005), which argues that over the last three decades popular culture artifacts such as television dramas and video games have become increasingly complex and have helped to foster higher-order thinking skills.
His book Where Good Ideas Come From advances the notion that innovative thinking is a slow and gradual process based on the concept of the "slow hunch" rather than an instant moment of inspiration. He expostulates on Stuart Kauffman's concept of the "adjacent possible" which enables the thinker to develop uncharted insights into unexplored areas.
His book Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age was released in September 2012.
In August 2013, PBS announced that Johnson would be the host and co-creator of a new six-part series on the history of innovation, How We Got to Now, scheduled to air on PBS and BBC Two in Fall 2014.