The electron shepherds

Electrons only obbey the law of Physics. And in Physics, using electrons to produce work is called ‘power’. Power is what drives electrons and power is what electrons produce, for the lucky ones that can master them. In Spain, a ‘small’ lobby of utility companies have the power to shape a big part of our future. But many knowledgeable individuals are resisting, mostly through bottom-up, self-organizing initiatives. They don’t have the power to master all the electrons in our networks, but they can shepherd them into more social pastures.

On October 23, 2016 the price of electricity in Spain broke a new record hitting 182 EUR per MWh (Megawatt per hour). While utilities and the Spanish government blame the severe drought as the main responsible, consumers and independent experts argue that the Spanish energy market is far from perfect. The fact is that the price of electricity rises when the resource is most needed, rocketing around July-August and December, when air-conditioning and heat demands are at their highest, in which seems a sort of “uberized” behaviour. Since the energy market is a heavily regulated environment, and given that Spain has a well-known track of questionable energy policy, many argue that we are not facing a market flaw, but a government failure. Continue reading


How to face globalization (V). Urban manufacturing: “Made in the city”

made-in-nyPrevious post: How to face globalization (IV). Changes at work. The urban jiu-jitsu

Big corporations are much less innovative than they seem to a non-trained eye. Innovation often happens despite big corporations and sparks in new businesses fueled by ex-employees of companies that, combining top skills with a deep business knowledge, decide to part and implement their ideas on their own account. It is important that the city fosters these processes so these spin-offs can survive and succeed.

In her acclaimed book “The economy of cities”, Jane Jacobs cleverly explains the former process. Her understanding of the economic flows of a city implies that, only by means of innovation, cities can engine sustainable growth, since only innovation is able to create products and services to be exported and, consequently, finance decent life conditions for citizens, in the first place, and the capacity to develop new innovations, in second.

Where did industries go?

Talent, venture capital, knowledge and institutional support policies are essential in this process. However, new businesses, when their size increases, tend to abandon the city in what appears to be a mutual interest: they can get cheaper land to expand and better access to transport infrastructures, while cities avoid the disturbances of pollution, goods delivery and noise, and liberate urban land for higher revenue uses. Continue reading


How to face globalization (III). Cities that empower children

Previous post: How to face globalization (II). Cities innovating in politics.


Innovation in micro-politics (a.k.a. new ways of participation, probably beyond open government) is often linked to progress in fields such as technology, learning, social economy, or organizational culture… and is mostly and urban phenomenon. Cities, by themselves, have good probabilistic reasons for being innovative just by the natural product of size, density and heterogeneity. But, is there anything that can be done to improve or (better) multiply this background innovative pulse? Continue reading


Creatividad tecnológica: mantener al alcance de los niños


La crisis económica no ha hecho sino poner al descubierto las evidencias de un brusco cambio de época. Por delante nos espera un mundo globalizado e impregnado de tecnología, que produce artefactos a un ritmo muy superior a nuestra capacidad para comprender cómo funcionan, y absolutamente multi-tarea en lo que respecta al manejo de la información. Trabajando sobre estructuras como la educación o el sistema industrial, podemos afrontar mejor los retos que los nuevos tiempos nos plantean. La creatividad tecnológica, la cultura “maker” y los centros de innovación que están surgiendo en ciudades de todo el planeta pueden ser herramientas claves de éxito en esta inaplazable tarea.
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Paseo virtual por Etopia y la economía de la creatividad

masterEl pasado 28 de Julio fuimos invitados a impartir una de las últimas sesiones del Máster de Economía Creativa de la Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. Delante de un aula compuesta por alumnos de variada procedencia y formación, fuimos desgranando, a lo largo de una intensa sesión de cuatro horas, la filosofía, principios, programa y desafíos de un proyecto con vocación transformadora como es “Etopia. Centro de Arte y Tecnología”.

Subrayando su función de catalizador y de nexo de unión entre barrios, entre lo local y lo global, entre los innovadores tecnológicos y los innovadores sociales, entre el talento y el empleo de alta cualificación, recorrimos sus diversos espacios como si de una visita física se tratara, recalcando la creciente importancia del espacio y del lugar (“Place matters”) en un mundo cada vez más interconectado. Continue reading