Notes on technology diffusion

One of the many memorable bits of Robert Gordon’s The Rise and Fall of American Growth is how rapidly technologies like radio and automobiles diffused throughout the country. But is diffusion speeding up? I won’t try to answer that question. This post is just to clip together some resources related to it.

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/technology-adoption-by-households-in-the-united-states?country=Household%20refrigerator+Electric%20power+Microwave+Colour%20TV+Automobile+Computer+Social%20media%20usage+Landline+Tablet+Ebook%20reader

Our World in Data has a great piece on this, with data available for download. That piece relied in part on Horace Dediu, who blogged about this here and here.

Other mentions: At HBR (with charts), The New York Times, and MIT Technology Review.

Finally, I downloaded the Our World in Data dataset, and plotted the years elapsed between the first data point for a given technology, and the year it hit 50% penetration. Lots of caveats apply. Most importantly, the first datapoint isn’t the same thing as when the technology was invented; it’s possible you’d get totally different results with that more meaningful starting point. Nonetheless:

diffusion

Update: Something similar in Mary Meeker’s 2018 deck:

Screen Shot 2018-06-01 at 12.33.38 PM

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