This week's readings come from Eric Hobsbawm's "The Age of Empire," and focused primarily on the Europe's reign of world power throughout the 20th century. This power was primarily due to drastic changes in population count, technology, communication and transportation, and the connection between politics and economics. The series of changing events went something a little like this:
New inventions and rapid industry growth led to the economic boom of big and/or major cities. This in turn led to major population growth as more and more people moved to the cities and the boom caused the increased population to thrive. The people were looking for new jobs in these industrialized cities but anoher reason they fled from the rural areas was because moving had become so much easier. With increased transportation fashions, ie advanced railway systems and new found inventions like the steamboat, more and more people made the move the major cities. This major population shift also caused overpopulation, something no one had ever heard of before.
This got me thinking. One little rift in history can cause so many different and perhaps unforseen waves and ripples in the following years. And as much as the society back then and society now are different, some parallels can still be drawn. Back in the 20th century, the invention of the steamboat resulted (indirectly) in the creation of overpopulation. But now, invention like the telephone and the television and now the cellphone have resulted in world-wide connections. With a few numbers, a person in America can ask a person in Beijing what the weather is like. Circumstances like these could have never have been imagined back when the steamboats were first invented. Yet, noting the differences, the similarities in the impact these inventions made on society are still just as significant.