I spend quite a lot of my working life thinking about the way that innovations get taken up. So at the moment I am in the middle of reading "Market Rebels" by Hayagreeva Rao, which was published a few weeks ago. Mr Rao looks at the role that groups of activists play in encouraging (or discouraging) the spread of innovations.
The book has been endorsed by some pretty impressive names, and it looks at a wide variety of examples. For anyone interested in this stuff there is quite a lot to think about, and I've not really got my head round what it is saying yet - so this isn't a review.
But I would like to share one quote, from the section dealing with the early days of motor cars.
Around 1900, apparently, rural areas in America were particularly exercised about the threat that they believed cars would pose to livestock and horse-drawn vehicles. The Farmer's Anti-Automobile Society of Pennsylvania made the following demands:
- Automobiles travelling on country roads at night must send up a rocket every mile, then wait ten minutes for the road to clear;
- If a driver sees a team of horses, he is to pull to one side of the road and cover his machine with a blanket or dust cover that has been painted to blend into the scenery;
- In the event that a horse refuses to pass a car on the road, the owner must take his car apart and conceal the parts in the bushes.
Just imagine how different things might have been...