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When Lightning Strikes

the evolution of an idea


Ideas may FEEL like a lightning bolt when they hit, but ideas do not come from thin air. This an attempt to illustrate the intellectual genesis of ELEGANT TECHNOLOGY


Thorstein Bunde Veblen

Born: 1857 Wisconsin USA
Died: 1929 California USA


"The Theory of the Leisure Class:" "The Instinct of Workmanship:" plus eight other books and over 100 major essays

Because an elegant technological future is impossible without a progressive economic system to fund it, understanding and explaining Veblen, the MOST original and progressive American Political Economist, is the goal of much of this Web Site.

Known Influences

Gustav Schmöller

Immanuel Kant and German Idealism

American Midwestern Progressive Traditions

19th Century Nordic Progressiveism

Charles Sanders Pierce and Pragmatism

Industrialism and the Machine Age


John Kenneth Galbraith

Born: 1908, Ontario CANADA


"The New Industrial State" among dozens of other nearly as superb books and essays.

Galbraith is the most successful interpreters and promoters of Thorstein Veblen's ideas. He was the most influential of America's progressive economists and taught a generation of economists how to ensure a general prosperity. Wherever they were heard, they produced economic miracles from 1934-1973.


Tom Wolfe

Born 1931, Virginia USA


The Kandy Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby, Radical Chic, The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities, among others

Like Veblen, a PhD from Yale who used the experience to inoculate himself from the absurdities and pretensions of America's ruling classes. The best of the "new journalists," Wolfe has provided the language with persistent expressions and enduring insights. Possibly no one has ever used the term "technological illiterates" with the power he employed in "The Right Stuff." Chapter Four of "Elegant Technology" could not have been written without his intellectual contribution.

Jonathan Larson


Jonathan Larson

Born 1949, Minnesota USA


ELEGANT TECHNOLOGY: Economic Prosperity from an Environmental Blueprint

In addition to coining and popularizing the expression "Elegant Technology," Larson is also a patented inventor in the area of so-called "customized mass production"--an example of one of the bits necessary for an elegant technological future. He continues to write on themes related to the original idea.


And...every idea needs a bit of humor

Scott Adams

Born: 1957, New York USA


Dilbert and Friends

In the USA where social commentary has been utterly trivialized, Adams has exposed an important truth--that most "white-collar" workers are laboring under absurd and sometimes insane conditions. Better, he is FUNNY.

And as anyone who studies Veblen and has read "The Dilbert Principle" will notice, their thinking is remarkably similar. This means either Adams is a student of Veblen or has figured out the same ideas independently. Either way, Adams is FAR more important than his status as a cartoonist would indicate.

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