Cities, companies, and innovation – Why cities keep growing

A theoretical physicist and researcher of complex adaptive systems, Geoffrey West asked himself what social systems have in common with biological systems: Could it be that cities or companies actually follow the same underlying principles like plants or animals? Is London a great big whale? Is Walmart an elephant? In earlier work, he and his team had investigated the role […]

Some second thoughts on first contact

The concept of adaptive cycles can serve as a framework for a rich discussion on innovation. However, before diving deeper into the specifics of the concept, let’s look at the basic description of the adaptive cycles again and review some of the earlier posts on this blog: to what extent do those ideas fit with this concept? I’d […]

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 […]

On the unintended consequences of innovation policy …

My appreciation for Ian Morris and his big thinking has been woven into this blog already at a very early stage, as his writing provides a long-range historic context for social development in general, and I believe for innovation in particular. He has his finger on the pulse of society’s fundamental challenges, with his paradox of development eloquently paraphrasing society’s eternal […]

Is growth inevitable?

We all tend to believe that mankind is on a path of continuous progress and ever-increasing prosperity, driven by good fortune and human ingenuity. Is that just wishful thinking or could it actually be true? I started looking into this question from a macro perspective in my previous post. I talked about the work of […]