We love the idea of the butterfly effect – somewhere a butterfly flaps its fragile wings and that little action sets off a chain of events that end up in a hurricane a thousand miles away. Hurricanes are game-changers. Metaphorically. They uproot old ideas, cause upheavals, rearrange some furniture and leave behind a new order. Let’s look at some of these metaphorical hurricanes- ideas that were so disruptive that they changed the world forever.
1. The Wheel – At the top of the chart, we must mention the wheel because the wheel is one hundred percent a human invention – no wheels exist in nature! So how did someone think it up? Some 3500 BCE? Evidence suggests that it took 300 years for someone to figure out that the wheel could be used for transportation; before that, the wheel was used as a potter’s wheel. We don’t quite know how they did it – made that inductive leap, but we sure are glad that they did. Imagine a world without wheels. Take a moment. Imagine it. See? Unimaginable, right?
2. The Electric Bulb – No. We are not going into who discovered electricity and whether dear Ben Franklin deserves all the credit he has been getting. Our point is that the electric bulb changed the game, completely. It added hours to the human day. Suddenly, more and more of the human world was functioning round the clock. It was not simply evolving from candlelight to electric light – the evolution was from a race that moved as far as fire would let it go to a race that literally no darkness could hold back. Impressive!
3. The Printing Press – Again, who invented it, which year, did China have presses before the Western world… all great questions, but not the point of this piece. The point is that the printing press did to the collective human mind what the electric bulb would do for the collective human space – it made it brighter than ever before. Books became widely available, they were much cheaper than ever before. And before you knew it we were all reading. What a giant leap for mankind!
4. Netflix – Cut to a few hundred years later, and from people being able to read easily and economically, the world moved to be able to view content easily and economically. And what a game-changing idea that has been. We binge watch now… and God help us all!
5. The mobile phone – It gets a lot of bad press and some of it is pretty well deserved. We do spend unholy amounts of time with our eyes glued to our mobile screens and our heads inside a faraway world. But credit where credit is due – the mobile phone and the telecom revolution wiped out geographical distances. Being able to connect with anyone, anywhere on the planet, in a matter of seconds, and to top it all, inexpensively – what a game changer that has been!
6.The TV Remote – Okay… we’re not even going to talk about why this makes it to the list. Nope. Not going to talk about it. Self-evident.
7. Ice cream – So, this one makes it to the list because the writer of this blog thought long and hard about anything which a scoop of vanilla ice cream doesn’t make better. Or chocolate ice cream. Or mango sorbet (which is ice cream doing a fancy turn). Or strawberry… And then the writer actually wrote down the most amazing ice cream flavor combinations. And got lost in the list. Surely, surely, surely something that continues to change the game so many centuries after its invention deserves to be on this list. QED.