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 […]

How information flow empowers innovation in the future

The flow of information, its density, volume and accessibility are essential underpinnings to a society’s innovation capacity. In this short series of posts, I’ve taken a historic perspective, looking at the information revolution in the middle ages, and at the technological and societal developments up to the 20th century, before turning to the 21st century and the dominant […]

How information flow empowers innovation – Part 3

Much has been said and written about the transformative power of the internet; how it affects every aspect of our lives; how it keeps changing our economy, society, culture. Today, I’ll take stock of the most profound effects the internet has had so far. For me, the term “the internet” is a chiffre for the current performance level that information and […]