Science historian James Burke’s ten part series Connections traces the progression of technology from ancient to modern times. According to Burke, every invention comes from putting the right pieces of already available technology together to build something new. By tracing the history of technology through a series of “triggers,” each one of which sets off the next, Burke demonstrates how technology is an interconnected web and how one seemingly unrelated innovation leads to another.
In the introductory episode of James Burke’s connections, Burke demonstrates how dependent modern society is on technology. He further posits that electrically driven technology has become such a staple of our daily life that we take it for granted and would be literally helpless without electricity. Using the invention of the plow as an example, Burke shows how one invention leads to another and that it is the connected series of these small innovations that has led to the intricate technological systems we now take for granted.
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The presentation on Mahalo is a bit chintzy — each episode, for example, appears to be split into separate clips, which is just silly — but the show itself is outstanding.