My dissertation advisor and long-time friend, Joel Mokyr, has written a new book that will be published in December. Titled Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy, it is an historical analysis of the relationship between economic growth and access to information on technological change and new ideas more broadly construed. From the book description:
He argues that the growth explosion in the modern West in the past two centuries was driven not just by the appearance of new technological ideas but also by the improved access to these ideas in society at large–as made possible by social networks comprising universities, publishers, professional sciences, and kindred institutions. Through a wealth of historical evidence set in clear and lively prose, he shows that changes in the intellectual and social environment and the institutional background in which knowledge was generated and disseminated brought about the Industrial Revolution, followed by sustained economic growth and continuing technological change.
Joel is an intellectual omnivore with wide-ranging interests, and the erudition of his writing makes his work even more compelling. And he’s willing to be controversial, so you’ll think when you read this. Read it and enjoy.