Pic c/o flickr
Nice piece in the Atlantic by Richard Florida showing how the American economy is changing itself over time.
Brings to mind 3 of the big ideas that are embedded in Darwin's Origin (which I've been re-reading for an article I'm writing):
1. Change is largely a self- [strictly system-] generated phenomenon – it's the interaction of the agents involved that creates the change, not some big external ('exogenous') lever/levers. Bishop points out in the Big Sort, America is sorting itself out into homogenous but discrete groups of likeminded folks; here the point must surely be that innovation attracts innovation, patent-writers others of the same ilk. In this case, if we could unpick the data from the graphic file, I'd imagine it'd be characterised by a rich-get-richer distribution (not the only one but a common one, nonetheless)
2. Change is continuous: it's happening all the time – it's in the nature of things – even when things seem to be unchanging. In the long run, almost everything changes.
3. Change is non-directional: some of Darwin's contemporaries saw the process of evolution as being progressive, moving ever upward on some scale or other, to better things or greater enlightenment or whatever (e.g. Herbert Spencer who coined "survival of the fittest" and seems to be the real source of much of what we now know as Social Darwinism). Darwin doesn't seem to have thought this – he recognises that change just is.
If these things are true then how might that change what you do? What governments should do to address the patterns Florida describes? What – if anything – would you advise them to do?