Charting K-Waves

Screenshot from 2017-05-01 16-05-31.png

[the following schematic is an ongoing work in progress]

The Industrial Revolution

  1. Kondratiev Periodizations
    1. Installation Phase: 1771 – 1790s
    2. Crisis and turning-point: 1793 – 1797
    3. Deployment Phase: 1798 – 1829
  2. Technologies
    1. Mechanized cotton industry
    2. Wrought Iron
    3. Machinery
  3. Infrastructures
    1. Canals and waterways
    2. Turnpike roads
    3. Water power (improved water wheels)
  4. Innovation Principles
    1. Factory production
    2. Mechanization
    3. Productivity time/time keeping
    4. Fluidity of movement
    5. Local networks
  5. Flows of capital towards technology and infrastructures
    1. Britain: Internal savings from pre-Industrial Revolution compounding as reserves for investment during installation phase
    2. Britain (inward): Foreign capital influx from Holland (heavy Dutch investment in East India Trading Company; British government borrowings from Holland, Dutch investments in private British assets)

Age of Steam and Railways

  1. Kondratiev Periodization
    1. Installation Phase: 1829 – 1840s
    2. Crisis and Turning Point: 1848 – 1850
    3. Deployment Phase: 1850 – 1873
  2. Technologies
    1. Steam engines and machinery (made of iron, powered by coal)
    2. Iron and coal mining
    3. Railway construction
    4. Rolling stock production
    5. Steam power for many industries
  3. Infrastructures
    1. Railways (use of steam engines)
    2. Universal postal service
    3. Telegraph (related directly to national railway lines)
    4. Large ports and depots, worldwide sailing
    5. City gas
  4. Innovation Principles
    1. Economies of agglomeration, industrial cities and national markets
    2. Power centers within national networks
    3. Scale as progress
    4. Standardization in machine parts and machine-made machines
    5. Independent movement of machine and means of transport (generalized increase in mobility)
  5. Flows of capital towards technology and infrastructures
    1. Britain (internal): investment flow from savings of large, well-off middle class
    2. Britain (outward): investment flow towards the US (see below)
    3. US (inward): investment flow in westward expansion, cotton industries, and infrastructure (namely railroad and canal) from the United Kingdom

Age of Steel, Electricity, and Heavy Engineering

  1. Kondratiev Periodization
    1. Installation Phase: 1875 – 1890s
    2. Crisis and Turning Point: 1893 – 1895
    3. Deployment Phase: 1895 – 1915
  2. Technologies
    1. Cheap steel
    2. Full development of steam engines for steel ships
    3. Heavy chemistry and civil engineering
    4. copper and cables
    5. Canned and bottled foods
    6. Paper and packaging
  3. Infrastructures
    1. Worldwide shipping in steel steamships
    2. Transcontinental railways (heavily reliant of cheep steal and part and tool standardization)
    3. Great bridges and tunnels
    4. Worldwide telegraphy
    5. Telephone (national)
    6. Electrical networks (in cities, transportation and industrial use)
  4. Innovation Principles
    1. Giant structures utilizing steel
    2. Economies of scale and vertical integration
    3. Distributed power for industry (electricity)
    4. Science as productive force
    5. Worldwide networks, empires, and cartels
    6. Universal standardization
    7. Cost accounting for control and efficiency
    8. Great scale for world market, small succeeds locally
    9. Great migratory waves moving across the globe
  5. Flows of capital towards technology and infrastructures
    1. United States (inward): US bonds held City of London bond market; significant British, Dutch, French and German investments in US railroads and steel industry (i.e. US Steel)
    2. Great Britain (outward): holding and trading of US bond, investments in US railroads and steel industries; investment of savings in and holding of debt of Canada, Australia, Argentina

Age of Oil, the Automobile, and Mass Production

  1. Kondratiev Periodization
    1. Installation Phase: 1908 – 1920s
    2. Crisis and Turning Point: 1929 – 1933 (Europe); 1929 – 1943 (USA)
    3. Deployment Phase: 1943 – 1968-74
  2. Technologies
    1. Mass-produced automobiles
    2. Cheap oil and oil fuels
    3. Petrochemicals (synthetics)
    4. Internal combustion engines (automobiles and other transports, including tractors, airplanes, tanks, etc., as well as for electricity)
  3. Infrastructures
    1. Large networks of roads, highways, ports and airports
    2. Networks of oil ducts
    3. Universal electricity (industry and homes)
    4. Worldwide analog telecommunications, wire and wireless
  4. Innovation Principles
    1. Mass production and mass markets
    2. Economies of scale and horizontal integration
    3. Standardization of products
    4. Energy intensity (oil based)
    5. Synthetic materials
    6. Functional specialization and hierarchical pyramids
    7. Centralization in metropolitan areas, with rapid suburbanization
    8. National powers, global conflicts and conflict resolutions via worldwide agreements and power balances
  5. Flows of capital towards technology and infrastructures

Age of Informations and Telecommunication

  1. Kondratiev Periodization
    1. Installation Phase: 1971 – 2000s
    2. Crisis and Turning Point: 2001/2007 – ??
    3. Deployment Phase: ??
  2. Technologies
    1. Information revolution
    2. Cheap microelectronics
    3. Computers, software
    4. Telecommunications
    5. Control instruments
    6. Computer-aided biotechnology and new materials
  3. Infrastructures
    1. World digital communications (cable, fiber optics, radio and satellite)
    2. Multiple source, flexible use electricity networks
    3. Internet/electronic mail and other services
    4. High-speed multi-modal transport on a global level via land, air and water
  4. Innovation Principles
    1. Information density (micro-electronics based ICT)
    2. Decentralized integration/network organization
    3. Knowledge as capital
    4. Heterogeneity, diversity, adaptability and resiliency
    5. Segmentation of markets and proliferation of niches
    6. Economies of scope and specialization combined with scale
    7. Globalization, increased interactivity between the globe and local
    8. Inward and outward cooperation, clustering
    9. Instant global communication and information sharing
  5. Flows of capital towards technology and infrastructures
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6 Responses to Charting K-Waves

  1. dmf says:

    “Sudetenlands of the mind”

  2. – the time-lag of crises apparently got much bigger during the 20th century. seems related to this: https://oldnicksite.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/bonfire-of-the-vanities/. if the pattern is maintained, 2025 or so is the likely end of the turning point (coinciding with the generational Fourth Turning according to Howard-Strauss theory).

    “may you live in interesting times”

    • edmundberger says:

      Ah, really interesting link, Uri, thanks for this! Parameswaran seems like another rabbit hole (cave?) to go falling down. From Nick’s piece, this is excellent:

      >Parameswaran explains that the absence of fires leads to fuel build-up, ecological drift towards less fire-resistant species, reduction in diversity, and increased connectivity. The ‘protected’ or ‘stabilized’ forest changes in nature, from a cleared, robust, mixed, and patch-worked system, to a fuel-cluttered, fragile, increasingly mono-cultural and tightly interconnected mass, amounting almost to an explosive device. Stability degrades resilience, and preventing the catastrophe-to-come becomes increasingly expensive and uncertain, even as the importance of prevention rises. By the penultimate stage of this process, crisis management has engineered an impending apocalypse: a disastrous event that simply cannot possibly be allowed to happen (although it surely will).

      Carlota Perez and Christopher Freeman argue that the crisis becomes the turning point towards the “golden age” of the K-Wave (the “deployment” phase) following a period of successful “institutional adaptation” (and here the neo-managerial bit of their discourse comes up, as it is precisely towards helping that adaptation that is their ultimate goal). It’s multi-scaled: clearing out of bad investment, corporate restructuring, new managerial and organizational practices across all platforms, new balances of power within civil society, adjustment of the government’s operations ( +, I would argue, the successful capture/reterritorialization of dissenting/deterritorializing movements/war machines).

      Perhaps the widening gyre of specific crisis is precisely due to the increased difficulty in finding institutional adaptation (from the POV of the superstructure, of course)? The general direction of techoeconomic/technocommerical development doesn’t truck well with the superstructure (the Cathedral, Empire, the megamachine, Oedipus, what-have-you), and in the flow of time this intensifies – as we all know quite well. Adaptation becomes quick-fixes, stability at the expense of resiliency… there’s also something to be said here about the crisis that broke out between ’68-’72 having never been properly resolved, only forestalled through the variety of instruments and mechanisms bundled up under the name “neoliberalism”.

      Also interesting, from the larger Turning of Empires: the British Empire’s decline is precipitous after falling to meet the “institutional adaptation” in the crises of the 1890s.

  3. Ron Carrier says:

    FWIW, there’s a K-wave like slide in Robin Hanson’s “Age of Em” talk. I don’t remember exactly where, but it’s early on. https://youtu.be/FWGOdZ3edmA

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