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…

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…

10k

… views of DriverlessCroc, as of 23rd September 2020, not including email subscribers. At 9k I suggested that 250 views per week would be a good target weekly average. The last three weeks have seen an average of 309 views per week, so things are going well. I’m hoping that the acceleration will continue, so from now on I’ll share…

Selective serendipity: places, people, ideas

This morning I listened to Nicholas Bloom lamenting the current absence of conferences and seminars in the Covid-19 era in part because of the loss of the sort of selective serendipity that exposes him to new collaborators and interesting ideas. Then I found myself in a large, good quality bookshop for the first time in (at least) several months and…

DC goes exponential

Not really. But we did fly past six-thousand views in early June thanks to Tyler Cowen re-tweeting a link to this post about reading. The retweet (and subsequent RTs by a fraction of Cowen’s 160,000ish twitter followers) generated about 740 extra visits – so it’s a great little window into the power of well-connected nodes on a social network. It’s…

In it to win it (2): OK Go on the sandbox theory of how to find a wonderful idea

This may seem to you like testing, but it really isn’t, because at this point we don’t yet know what our idea is: we don’t have a plan to be testing. We’re just trying everything we can think of because we need to get the idea space filled with a chaos… because then… if we can… get just a few…

Tyler Cowen on reading fast, reading well, and reading widely

This is a great riff on how reading works and on the network effects of reading. Links below. Tyler says: … I go through five or ten books a day. And which parts of them I’ve read you can debate – maybe it washes out to be two or three books a day. Some good nights you can get through…

Network theory: Matthew O. Jackson on four types of connectedness

Recommended – link below. 1. The most basic [type of connectedness] that we all think of is just popularity: how many people you connect with. And that’s very natural – we count how many friends we have on Facebook or how many followers you have on Twitter. And that gives a some idea of the reach of a person… and…

César Hidalgo on the importance of trust in networks of innovation

Another great episode of Exponential View – recommend. Azeem Azhar: It seems like the richer, faster growing economies require these dense and intricate networks of people, and these people need to have ways of communicating with each other, norms, behaviours that ultimately get reflected – measured – as trust. … César Hidalgo: Trust is fundamental for economic growth, because it…