Monday, December 25, 2006

The Advent of Eco Tech.

Some years back, I read a piece in the Economist, a mixed bag rag, about the impact and time frame of technology innovations.

It began with the invention of the Steam Engine by James Watt and provided a time line for the duration of steam tech as a creator of wealth. It ran with this summary all the way up to the present with the World Wide Web introduction as the latest engine of wealth creation.

One striking feature of the piece was observation of time frame shrinkage such that the combined impact of all manner of transforming tech introductions.

For example, the impact time frame of WWW is comparatively shorter than the decades of influence the steam engine had. The essence of the time frame definition is keyed to the duration of active innovation churning before the tech becomes mundane.

I look around for the next big thing as an odd hobby, an aspect of 'reading sign' that I'll describe in another post.

I'm increasingly convinced that the next phase of transformation will be a twist on the model, a comprehensive integration of all past innovations to fix the collateral messes left by them.

I call this 'Eco Tech'. It will be marked by a drive toward a vast sustainability retrofit and adjustment of the old sprawl.

There is great excitement over its potential in the pacific coast. The city of Seattle even produced a very useful web page on its value to home builders and owners.

With a tightening market for home sales, 'green' homes are likely to buck the slow sales trend and sell more quickly than the inefficient and toxic conventional versions.

Alas, builders and contractors are a hide bound lot, particularly here in Metro Boston where there is little evidence of a scene for this. There is one out in the Connecticut River Valley.

And yet the greater Boston area is uniquely poised to be a critical Eco Tech center and recover the initiative it lost to Silicon valley in the info tech phase.

For example, a number of exciting products are coming on line often from small start ups. The advent of white LED light allows a whole new role for low energy home lighting where walls literally emit a much higher quality than conventional incandescent bulbs.

There are 'smart' thermostatic controls coming, low toxin paints, demand based water heating systems, methane capture systems to convert sewer system byproducts into usable energy, improved windmill systems, photovoltaic systems and so on.

If you project this retrofit potential across the vast, tired national infrastructure it suggests a staggering amount of work that simultaneously increases value by yielding far higher system efficiencies than the current sloppy fossil fuel model.

The blog link section now includes several important glimpses of this future. Of these, the most interesting is probably a B2B board called 'The Green Pages.

Give it a click when you tire of my drivel and look at what may well be without any help or hindrance from the reign of the Imbecile in Chief.