Tuesday, May 8, 2012

More of Disruptive Technology Change

There's a cool infographic on technology change in FrugalDad.  See The Great Disruption: The Future of Personal Tech.  It's interesting and informative, but the few predictions it makes are not really disruptive.  You wouldn't see anyone lobbying against the suggested future directions.  They're all good ideas that leverage existing technology.

On the other hand, there's a great graphic that shows how disruptive technology is labeled as illegal.  See Infographic: Why the movie industry is so wrong about SOPA.

Consider just one example.  Digital Movies.  The DVD was so frightening to movie producers (or distributors or theaters or the whole supply chain) that discussion of circumvention of DVD encoding had to be made illegal.  That kind of industry legislative action is evidence that a technology is truly disruptive.

Disruptive change will often lead to fearful rejection and legislative action.

"But wait," you say, "no one tried to make the iPod illegal."  Correct.   The iPod is not the core disruptive change.  Digital music is the disruptive change.  The iPod is just a vehicle.  Apple is making their money by providing a platform for digital content.

If you want to know what the Next Big Thing is, look to the US Congress.  Lobbyists are trying to make some things illegal merely because they're disruptive.

Universal Health Care, as one example, is being fought against.  There are lots of specious and farcical reasons being used to argue against simplifying the insurance mess that has emerged over the last few decades.  If Congress is fighting against it, that means the following:

1.  It's disruptive.  Game Changing.  Terrifying.
2.  The old school companies are spending huge lobbying and campaign budgets to prevent change.  They are unable to adapt to a different set of rules.
3.  Some new school companies stand to be wildly profitable if the change ever gets past the Congressional objections.

For another example, read this brilliant article: How Ma Bell Shelved the Future for 60 Years.  This an example of internal censorship of disruptive technology.  "More precisely, in Bell's imagination, the very knowledge that it was possible to record a conversation would "greatly restrict the use of the telephone," with catastrophic consequences for its business. Businessmen, for instance, the theory supposed, might fear the potential use of a recorded conversation to undo a written contract."

You know it's disruptive when it's actively feared.