How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom Kindle


How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom Kindle Innovation is the main event of the modern age, the reason we experience both dramatic improvements in our living standards and unsettling changes in our society. Forget short-term symptoms like Donald Trump and Brexit, it is innovation that will shape the twenty-first century. Yet innovation remains a mysterious process, poorly understood by policy makers and businessmen alike.

Matt Ridley argues that we need to see innovation as an incremental, bottom-up, fortuitous process that happens as a direct result of the human habit of exchange, rather than an orderly, top-down process developing according to a plan. Innovation is crucially different from invention, because it is the turning of inventions into things of practical and affordable use to people. It speeds up in some sectors and slows down in others. It is always a collective, collaborative phenomenon, involving trial and error, not a matter of lonely genius. It happens mainly in just a few parts of the world at any one time. It still cannot be modeled properly by economists, but it can easily be discouraged by politicians. Far from there being too much innovation, we may be on the brink of an innovation famine.

Ridley derives these and other lessons from the lively stories of scores of innovations, how they started and why they succeeded or failed. Some of the innovation stories he tells are about steam engines, jet engines, search engines, airships, coffee, potatoes, vaping, vaccines, cuisine, antibiotics, mosquito nets, turbines, propellers, fertilizer, zero, computers, dogs, farming, fire, genetic engineering, gene editing, container shipping, railways, cars, safety rules, wheeled suitcases, mobile phones, corrugated iron, powered flight, chlorinated water, toilets, vacuum cleaners, shale gas, the telegraph, radio, social media, block chain, the sharing economy, artificial intelligence, fake bomb detectors, phantom games consoles, fraudulent blood tests, hyperloop tubes, herbicides, copyright, and even life itself.

How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom Kindle | Matt Ridley | Harper

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Energy
Of heat, work and light, What Watt wrought, Thomas Edison and the invention business, The ubiquitous turbine, Nuclear power and the phenomenon of disinnovation, Shale gas surprise, The reign of fire

Chapter 2: Public Health
Lady Mary's dangerous obsession, Pasteur's chickens, The chlorine gamble that paid off, How Pearl and Grace never put a foot wrong, Fleming's luck, The pursuit of polio, Mud huts and malaria, Tobacco and harm reduction

Chapter 3: Transport
The locomotive and its line, Turning the screw, Internal combustion's comeback, The tragedy and triumph of diesel, The Wright stuff, International rivalry and the jet engine, Innovation in safety and cost

Chapter 4: Food
The tasty tuber. How fertilizer fed the world, Dwarfing genes from Japan, Insect nemesis, Gene editing gets crisper, Land sparing versus land sharing

Chapter 5: Low-technology innovation
When numbers were new, The water trap, Crinkly tin conquers the Empire, The container that changed trade, Was wheeled baggage late?, Novelty at the table, The rise of the sharing economy 

Chapter 6: Communication and computing
The first death of distance, The miracle of wireless, Who invented the computer?, The ever-shrinking transistor, The surprise of search engines and social media, Machines that learn 2

Chapter 7: Prehistoric innovation
The first farmers, The invention of the dog, The (Stone Age) great leap forward, The feast made possible by fire, The ultimate innovation: life itself

Chapter 8: Innovation's essentials
Innovation is gradual, Innovation is different from invention, Innovation is often serendipitous Innovation is recombinant, Innovation involves trial and error, Innovation is a team sport Innovation is inexorable, Innovation's hype cycle, Innovation prefers fragmented governance Innovation increasingly means using fewer resources rather than more 

Chapter 9: The economics of innovation
The puzzle of increasing returns, Innovation is a bottom-up phenomenon, Innovation is the mother of science as often as it is the daughter, Innovation cannot be forced upon unwilling consumers, Innovation increases interdependence, Innovation does not create unemployment Big companies are bad at innovation, Setting innovation free 

Chapter 10: Fakes, frauds, fads and failures
Fake bomb detectors, Phantom games consoles, The Theranos debacle, Failure through diminishing returns to innovation: mobile phones, A future failure: Hyperloop, Failure as a necessary ingredient of success: Amazon and Google 

Chapter 11: Resistance to innovation
When novelty is subversive: the case of coffee, When innovation is demonized and delayed: the case of biotechnology, When scares ignore science: the case of weedkiller, When government prevents innovation: the case of mobile telephony, When the law stifles innovation: the case of intellectual property, When big firms stifle innovation: the case of bagless vacuum cleaners
When investors divert innovation: the case of permissionless bits

Chapter 12: An innovation famine
How innovation works, A bright future, Not all innovation is speeding up, The innovation famine
China's innovation engine, Regaining momentum, Sources and further readi, Acknowledgements 




Written by Venkadesh Narayanan

Venkadesh is a Mechanical Engineer and an MBA with 30 years of experience in the domains of supply chain management, business analysis, new product development, business plan and standard operating procedures. He is currently working as Principal Consultant at Fhyzics Business Consultants. He is also serving as President, PDMA-India (an Indian affiliate of PDMA, USA) and Recognised Instructor of APICS, USA and CIPS, UK. He is a former member of Indian Civil Services (IRAS). Fhyzics offers consulting, certification, and executive development programs in the domains of supply chain management, business analysis and new product development.

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