How decentralisation enhances our innovation capacity

A few months ago, I started to take a deeper look into resource flows and how their patterns evolved over time. What the emerging flow patterns for information, energy, and material all have in common is the strong trend towards the decentralisation of distribution networks, which over time led to a genuine democratisation of access. As a result, today everybody can […]

How an emerging pattern of material flow could empower innovation

Trade and manufacturing are two cornerstones of the human endeavour, together they shape a society’s flow of tangible, material goods. As discussed in a brief history of material flow, trade and manufacturing have evolved only very slowly for most of our history, with the significant exception of the period after the Industrial Revolution. Today I’ll present snapshots of […]

When energy flow broke free …

From an energy perspective, you might split the entire history of mankind in just two phases: one before, and the other after the Industrial Revolution. Before that incisive event, an archaic pattern of energy flow ruled: muscle was the main source of energy to fulfil human needs; this source was decentralised and easily available to everybody, but […]

When limited energy flow constrained innovation

Since the Industrial Revolution, human life on this planet has changed dramatically: spurred by technological progress, society escaped the Malthusian Trap to become ever more numerous and ever more prosperous, while energy consumption increased by several orders of magnitude, both collective and per capita. Throughout this stormy development, energy played a double role: on one hand, increasing […]

Energy for innovation

As the key resource that defines our standard of living, energy has shaped the evolution of our culture not just for decades or centuries, but since the beginning of human society. A wide variety of investigations in cultural anthropology took a deep dive into the effect of energy in the development of human culture. To give just a few examples: In 1959, Lesley White […]