The parent of prosperity

Innovation is the child of freedom and the parent of prosperity. Matt Ridley – How Innovation Works I finished this in audiobook form today. Highly recommended as an overview of the impact of innovation and the messy process by which it happens. More from Matt Ridley: On Invention vs Innovation On innovation as gradual (feat. the Wright Brothers) On innovation…

Matt Ridley on the Wright Brothers: innovation is gradual

… with very few exceptions, man-made technologies evolve from previous man-made technologies and are not invented from scratch. This is a key characteristic with evolutionary systems: the move to the adjacent possible step. Perhaps I’m exaggerating – after all, there was a moment when the Wright Brothers’ Flyer became airborne on the 17th of December 1903. Surely this was a…

Autocatalysing innovations

Autocatalysing innovations are innovations whose outputs lead to a virtuous cycle of further adoption and innovation. Steam engines The earliest steam engines were used to pump water out of coal mines, where coal was as cheap as it could be and the size, efficiency and noise of the engine didn’t much matter. Pumping out the mines made coal easier to…

Innovation as network phenomenon: Matt Ridley on who invented the motor car

So who invented the motor car running on an internal combustion engine? Like the steam engine – and as I will show later, the computer – there is no simple answer. Ford made it ubiquitous and cheap; Maybach gave it all its familiar features; Levassor provided crucial changes; Daimler got it running properly; Benz made it run on petrol; Otto…

Contribution

Skimming a book of biographies of mathematicians I see few originators but many contributors: “She advanced the study of…” “He made many invaluable contributions…” “He shaped the teaching of mathematics…” “She vitally affected the development of the field…” “He helped to introduce the method…” “He founded two academies…” “She enhanced the methods…” “By combining field X and Y, he opened…

Seeking (better)

Seeking better … seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Jesus of Nazareth – in Matthew’s Gospel There are times that we know what “better” is. We’ve been there before, or seen it from afar, or can at least imagine it. So we seek it: we head in its…

Recommendation: Econtalk with Matt Ridley on How Innovation Works

I highly recommend this episode of Econtalk with Matt Ridley talking about how innovation makes inventions useful by making them available, affordable and reliable. The Academy of Ideas podcast is a good overview of the book’s key points about how innovation works and made me feel that I probably didn’t need to read it. This excellent interview with Russ Roberts…

Recommendation: Kevin Kelly on the future of…

Kevin Kelly is reliably insightful and thought-provoking and often fascinating. I don’t think I’ve ever read or listened to something of his that hasn’t made me see the world (particularly technology) in a new way, and with my curiosity piqued to find out more. Today’s recommendation is for a new series of 36 short lectures he’s sharing on YouTube about…

Matt Ridley: 15 principles of innovation from “How Innovation Works”

I think it [Innovation] is the most important thing that happens in history, bar none. It’s what explains all the trends that happen in the world, it’s what explains the prosperity, but it’s also what explains all the other cultural trends – it explains how social media has gone crazy and things like that. Innovation is at the heart of…

Matt Ridley: invention vs innovation

[Public service announcement for email subscribers: sorry for the unfinished post you may have received out of the weekend – I was having issues with the WordPress app.] Innovation is different from invention. Invention means coming up with a new thing; innovation means making that new thing available, affordable and reliable in such a way that people actually go out…