The Innovators by Walter Isaacson provides ample examples how the Information Age is a result of collaboration, with artists, creatives, impresarios and entrepreneurs always being as important as the engineers and scientists; and nurturing spaces a necessity for innovation.

The Book

From Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) and the Babbage Analytical Engine to Tim Berners-Lee (1955-), inventor of the World Wide Web, The Innovators takes the reader on a journey that leads us to the steps of the modern Information Age.

Isaacson shows how brilliant minds working in collaboration, generally in harmonic groups, developed some of the most important innovations of our time. He documents how equally important tinkering and messing about was for the inventors, who would often stumble on a new innovation or process, almost by accident. Congenial places and spaces for creative minds to come together were essential, particularly ones that encouraged cross-generational influences, and crossover between arts, humanities as well as engineering and science. Many of the greatest modern technology companies originated in backstreet rooms, school labs and community centres, where random people with different skill sets ‘hit it off’. The Homebrew Computer Club*, the most famous of these spaces was where the seeds of the Apple Inc. empire were sown.

Great Yarmouth Hubs

The hubs opening in Great Yarmouth during winter 2020, will create similar spaces, seemingly a bit weird to many people but inviting and interesting to tinkerers, thinkers, creators, artists and entrepreneurs seeking to find a niche in a business world that may appear sown-up or difficult to enter.

Opening without fanfare, the spaces in Great Yarmouth will appear like other independent shops or pubs in any British town struggling to keep it’s retail sector alive. Each week they will evolve, representing the increasing speed of technological change, a change that will be foisted upon the population whether wanted or not.

It is worth pausing for a moment to consider how young some of the successful household corporate names actually are. Since Berners-Lee created the first browser in 1990, Amazon (1994), Netflix (1997), Google (1998) and Facebook (2004) have be founded; Apple only unveiled the first iPhone in January 2007! This transformation has all happened in the lifetime of the average aged adult and the speed of transformation is very likely to increase over the coming decade.


As the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) blog posts explains, the 4IR is not all about robots and algorithms. It will bring dramatic change across all aspects of life, from how we shop and are treated for medical conditions to the work people do and how leisure time is pursued. Combined with Climate Change and attitude shifts, the conditions are in place for dramatic change, and this provides opportunities for entrepreneurs and change-makers to excel and develop enterprises and organisations fit for the coming 4IR age.

With thanks to the RSA** Library and Librarian Anna Bozic for providing the book.

*There will be a homage to the Homebrew Computer Club on 5th March 2020, celebrating 45 years since the first meeting, see Wikipedia for more. Get in touch for an invitation.

** Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce Library

John M

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