Spontaneous or emergent orders in human affairs are based upon voluntary interactions among individuals. Yet the physical environment influences the subsequent interactions which occur. While the interactions may be voluntary, the confines of a built environment – physical systems and infrastructure – shape the resulting emergent order. The existing infrastructure is the product of previous actions and not a choice variable for today’s actors. Within this setting we examine the development (or lack thereof) of technologies capable of radically reshaping the infrastructure. Individuals and organizations holding advantageous positions within the current infrastructure will have an incentive and often the political and economic resources to preserve the existing architecture. We examine several case studies of technologies with trans-formative potential and detail the degree to which they reshaped existing orders.
Find article at Studies in Emergent Order.