Less progress than Grandma experienced.

Posted by Rob Walker on February 2, 2011
Posted Under: America,Olde News,Progress

MY grandmother, who was born in 1905, spoke often about the immense changes she had seen, including the widespread adoption of electricity, the automobile, flush toilets, antibiotics and convenient household appliances. Since my birth in 1962, it seems to me, there have not been comparable improvements.

Of course, the personal computer and its cousin, the smartphone, have brought about some big changes. And many goods and services are now more plentiful and of better quality. But compared with what my grandmother witnessed, the basic accouterments of life have remained broadly the same.

That’s the opening of a recent Tyler Cowen column, and it surprised me. Read the rest here. Whether you agree with his points about economics, innovation and income, I think the underlying point about progress and the pace of change (and how it feels) is pretty provocative and very much worth pondering. Dedicated readers may remember this perhaps-related post on this site from 2007: “Totally Wildly Uprecedented Change, and Its Precedents.”

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

I wasn’t thinking of Tyler when I wrote it, but this column is in some ways a response: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704422204576130551068711970.html

#1 
Written By Virginia Postrel on March 1st, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

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