Stimulated • 19 September 2006 • The SnowBlog
What a great day I've had! Always one who is happier up the strategic end of things, I spent the morning in a focus group thing about IT. The organisers were asking about 'disruptive technologies' which got my hackles up because I'm ignorant and didn't know that a disruptive technology or innovation is a new technological innovation, product, or service that eventually overturns the existing dominant technology or product in the market. I thought it was going to be another one of those meetings where an angry old man shakes his cane at the speakers and calls for an end to barcodes, or summat. DTs can be positive for the user (think PCs superceding mainframes, or, as wikipedia helpfully says, the musket superceding the crossbow) but negative for the industry (think IBM's P&L the year people stopped buying computers that filled up a couple of rooms, required industrial ventilation and provided enough storage for, ooh, at least a gig of data. To put that into context, we have just taken delivery of a couple of external harddrives that are 500gb each. A terabyte of data... for seventy quid. Poor IBM.)
Annnyway, this focus group was fascinating and filled with people from publishing who were having sensible, thoughtful and clever conversations about which technologies will affect our industry in the coming months and how we should be positioning ourselves to exploit it. The discussion included, but wasn't limited, to, the effect on the creative industries of ebooks; creative commons, wikis, peer to peer networks, filesharing, authorities, RFID, and all the ways people want to access content. There was discussion about how the current value chain stops at the user experience, wheras a more likely future value chain will be more cyclical, with the user experience turning into feedback (think comments on blogs, capturing word of mouth on corporate websites, sharing opinions on peer to peer networks like myspace) which could guide future editorial direction. Ooh, the possibilities. The other interesting idea was around DRM and trying to stop people stealing content. Someone shared a new point of view: these people were never in the market to buy the content anyway, so it's no lost revenue, so treat it as an opportunity to spread word of mouth instead!
In summary, it was lovely to immerse myself in interesting, pioneering discussions for a morning.