Ian Morris, “Why the West Rules – For Now” (MP3 audio), Long Now Foundation, 2011/04/13

Social development as biology, sociology and geography … and historically, regional differences especially from the geography.

longnow.org/static/djlongnow_media/seminar_icons/salt-020110413-morris-Ismall.jpg

via Ian Morris: Why the West Rules – For Now – The Long Now.

Morris has devised a quantitative “social development index” based on evaluating a civilization’s energy capture, organization (size of largest cities), information management, and war-making capability. (The details of his method are online here.) When you graph human progress since the last ice age 15,000 years ago, the results show that the West led for all the millennia up till the 6th century CE, fell behind for 1,200 years, then leapt ahead again up to the present day. (The “West” for Morris is the civilizational core that developed agriculture and then cities and empires in the eastern Mediterranean, later spreading across Europe and North America. The “East” is China.)

Geography determines how and when regions develop, but new societal capabilities keep redefining what geography means. At first agriculture was limited to regions with reliable rainfall, but once societies grew able to manage large-scale irrigation, the empires of parched regions like Mesopotamia and Egypt could take off, and their rivers became trade routes. The vast steppes of north-central Asia long separated Western and Eastern empires, but once their riches became worth plundering, mounted nomads from the steppes invaded repeatedly, defeating the agrarian armies and carrying germs that unleashed waves of epidemics.

The West had the advantage of a trade highway in the Mediterranean that wasn’t matched in the East until the 6th century, when the Sui emperors built the Grand Canal 1,500 miles long linking north and south China. Everything then changed with the invention of ocean-going ships and guns in the 13th and 14th centuries.

MP3 audio

Advertisements
About

David Ing blogs at coevolving.com , photoblogs at daviding.com , and microblogs at http://ingbrief.wordpress.com . See .

Posted in Talk Audio Download

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Translate
Beyond this media queue
This content is syndicated to Twitter. For professional perspectives, look to Coevolving Innovations; for a photoblog, look to Reflections, Distractions.
  • Open Innovation Learning, Book Launch
    Video and audio recordings of the launch of my book, Open Innovation Learning, may be a more accessible preliminary way into the content, with the open access publication better as a reference.
  • Eight infographics on Systems Methods (UToronto iSchool 2018)
    The UToronto iSchool graduate student groups created 8 infographics reflecting impressions on the systems methods most relevant to their research in winter 2018.
  • Negotiating Order with Generative Pattern Language
    A workshop at PLoP 2017 framed dialogue as "Creating Order of" and "Negotiating Order with" frames of reference, to encourage collective sensemaking
  • Exploring the Context of Pattern Languages
    Pattern language is not for wicked problems, said Max Jacobson, coauthor with Christopher Alexander of the 1977 A Pattern Language: Towns, Building, Construction.  In addition, the conventional definition of an Alexandrian pattern as “a solution to a problem in context” when applied to social change might better use the term “intervention”, rather than “solu […]
  • Multiparadigm Inquiry Generating Service Systems Thinking
    Expanding pattern language to service systems through multiparadigm inquiry sweeps in research by scholars contemporaneous to Christopher Alexander.
  • Christopher Alexander, Horst Rittel, C. West Churchman
    Christopher Alexander (pattern languages), Horst Rittel (wicked problems) and C. West Churchman (the systems approach) were neighbours on campus at U.C. Berkeley in the 1960s and 1970s. What might we synthesize from their joint wisdom?
  • 2018/05 Moments May 2018
    Barely recovered from jet lag from China, bounced back to west coast for some continuing research. Returned home as spring turns into summer.
  • 2018/03 Moments March 2018
    A month in Toronto, as I came out of the Air Cast for my Achilles Tendon injury from December, and started physiotherapy.
  • 2018/04 Moments April 2018
    Relearning to walk, after ankle in cast, across Shanghai, Wuhan and Vancouver, with DY as my sherpa.
  • 2018/02 Moments February 2018
    A second month when the only occasions to leave the house required my spouse to accompany me.
  • 2018/01 Moments January 2018
    Ankle in a cast, a limited mobility month, maximum 10km from home
  • 2017/12 Moments December 2017
    Completed round-the-world trip Helsinki-Hameenlinna-London, then busy holiday season including an Achilles tendon injury from parkour, and our da shou Double 60 celebration.
  • The Systems Approach and its Enemies Helps Us Find the Morality of a Revised Democracy | van Gigch | 2006
    In a book series celebrating C. West Churchman, John P. van Gigch digests (and portends to extend) The Systems Approach and its Enemies. On enemies … 4.1 A MATTER OF DEFINITIONS: ADVERSARIES VERSUS ENEMIES I note the similarity/difference between the words ‘enemy’ and ‘adversary.’ Other authors use the word adversary (ies) to denote all the […]
  • Restoring Legitimacy to the Systems Approach | Clinton J. Andrews | 2000
    A public policy professor, Clinton J. Andrews, looks at how The Systems Approach may encounter problems in skepticism from engineering practice. The systems approach is one general way of going about tackling a problem; some others include the experimental, political, moral, religious, and aesthetic approaches [1,p. 5], [2]. The systems approach to a problem […]
  • The Systems Approach: Its Variety of Aspects | Richard Mattessich | 1982
    An informed view of the Systems Approach from 1982.  (Richard Mattessich was a well-respected professor at UBC when I started in the doctoral program in 1982, but I wouldn’t get to appreciate the Systems Approach as described by C. West Churchman until the ISSS 1998 meeting). In his latest work [The Systems Approach and its […]
  • A logic model for philanthropic effectiveness | Peter Frumkin | 2006
    Program evaluation can be approached from the philanthropic perspective. In searching for ways to give money effectively, donors have many options and confront a wide range of theories about how to achieve impact. It is possible to think about these theories as falling into three main categories: theories of change, theories of leverage, and theories […]
  • Program Logic Models and Theory of Change | Kellogg Foundation | 2004
    From the program evaluation community, with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation … The program logic model is defined as a picture of how your organization does its work – the theory and assumptions underlying the program. A program logic model links outcomes (both short- and long-term) with program activities/processes and the theoretical assumptions/principles of t […]
  • Restoring Manjaro Grub after Ubuntu upgrade
    On a multi-boot Linux computer where Ubuntu has already been installed, adding on Manjaro Linux installs its own version of Grub (that I’ll call Arch-Grub) that is different but compatible with that previously installed (that I’ll call Debian-Grub). Updating Ubuntu to a newer version (or installing an older version) restores Debian-Grub, replacing the workin […]
Contact
I welcome your e-mail. If you don't have my address, here's a contact page.
%d bloggers like this: