The Nature of Economies – What Jane Jacobs tells us about innovation

In ‘The Nature of Economies’, Jane Jacobs provides a view on a number of important aspects that often go unrecognised. Starting from her insights on an economy’s main processes, the control mechanisms at work, and the fitness of an economy, we can take a comprehensive look at innovation targets, i.e., the types of problems our society needs to solve.

Disrupting energy and production – Why

The Industrial Revolution essentially was an energy revolution: we learned to harness energy way beyond the natural sources we had used thus far. Instead of relying on renewables such as muscle (ox, horse, and man), wood, water, or wind, we increasingly utilised fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas to power the dizzying progress we have […]

The Third of the Grand Revolutions

There’s a lot of talk about the Digital Revolution and the effects it had, has, might have. Let’s take a step back to put things into perspective: Could it be that this revolution is a lot larger than we usually think? Are we currently experiencing the beginnings of a major transformation not only of our technological base, but of the very […]

The limits of complexity

In our daily lives, we are engulfed with complexity. It is all around us: just think about business transactions, global trade, health care systems, jet engines, the energy grid, the tax code, computers, … Many would even add the remote control of their stereo or the radio in their car to that list.  Yet despite that almost permanent […]

Energy and society – an accident waiting to happen?

Energy, society, complexity and innovation are intertwined through a multitude of interrelations that are sometimes difficult to grasp. In an earlier post, I’ve offered a storyline to describe this nexus, based on the considerations of Joseph Tainter and Ian Morris. In essence, the energy supply available to a society poses a limit on the complexity this society can […]