Approaching Maximum Freud? Or Just Channelling Schumpeter?

from the this-sounds-mighty-familiar dept

Magnavox writes “Interesting Rocky Mountain News article about when a technology reaches the end of its product life cycle it approaches a period of “Maximum Freud.” Yes, it’s a wacky name, but it makes sense. As technologies approach Maximum Freud, this is the period when industry players have to spend lots of time on the Freudian Couch to understand what’s going on. This is a period of extreme chaos and also a period of extreme opportunity. But here’s the most important part: All technologies end. Every technology that we use today will someday go away, and it will be replaced by something else. Every technology will approach its own period of Maximum Freud. So from the standpoint of making bold predictions, the imminent demise of many of our technologies is a certainty. The article includes a just a few examples of technologies that are currently approaching Maximum Freud.” Hmm. This doesn’t sound all that insightful, really. In many ways it’s just repeating Schumpeter’s theory of creative destruction with a silly name. Ah, written by a “think thank futurist.” That explains it. Did anyone not think that certain technologies eventually die off thanks to innovation?

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Comments on “Approaching Maximum Freud? Or Just Channelling Schumpeter?”

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Precision Blogger (user link) says:

Actually: an AWFUL article!

Mike, I’m glad you gave us the URL so we could read the article and judge for ourselves. WHat a terrible column! Here are the important counter-points:

(1) Frey begins with an unsupported assertion that the period when new and old product overlap is “chaos.” I doubt that is true in general. For example, I doubt there was chaos when candles and electricity overlapped. Obsoleting the slide rule, Frey’s long anecdotal example, did NOT cause chaos. Where there IS chaos (see: early motor cars), it is almost entirely chaos of the new product.

(2) Frey then lists a lot of technology that may be about to become obsolete. If he’s right, there may be a big story here (which he ignores): never before have so many technologies become obsolete at once! Now that might be something.

(3) But his list of dying technologies is very scattershot. It’s not clear whether they will interact, or how some of them will cause chaos. So maybe there’s no story at all.

(4) finally, Frey has his head in the sand if he thinks manufacturers will spend more time on the psychoanalytical couch during these transitions. We know very well where they’re spending their time: it’s at the law office, suing to stop the new ways of doing things!
– the Precision Blogger

Thomas Frey (user link) says:

Re: Actually: an AWFUL article!

I enjoyed reading your analysis but respectfully disagree.
1.) In the business world, whenever you have to contend with a declining market, and nothing you do can pump sales back up, it starts falling into the catagory of chaos. I’ve yet to meet a business person willing to just let go of a once stellar product and the revenue streams it generated without a fight. As a casual observer it may not look like chaos, but I’ve been inside the Board Rooms and it is very much a mess.
2.) Your comment about “never before have so many technologies become obsolete at once” is absolutely correct. We see the chaos all around us. If you know a business strategist with a clear vision of the future please introduce me, because the ones I know are constantly second guessing every move. But the rate of product decay is increasing. The bigger story here that I will write about soon is that we are on the verge of creating a series of “forever technologies” organically designed to morph and adapt to the changing marketplace.
The futurist world has been in remission for the past 4 years. When the economy gets bad, the event horizon that people are willing to think about gets shorter and shorter. This piece was carefully metered to a 5-10 year event horizon crowd. Its very easy for creative people to go too far and lose their market, and I’ve seen people’s eyes glaze over in the past.
3.) The dying technologies represented a broad cross-section of social interests. You can call them “scattershot” but they were carefully selected to appeal to a broader crowd.
4.) You’re right about the lawsuits. I’m not a big fan of using the legal system as a business tool, but it very much validates the chaos I referred to earlier.
Thomas Frey

Tim says:

Re: has some points

With respect- I have worked in the wired world, and while I believe that the decline will be much longer than 5-20 years, Wireless can supplant wired in a majority of applications. there will always be exceptions, but the bandwidth article assumes that wireless cannot increase bandwidth- as we have seen, this is not true.

Anonymous Coward says:

Thanks for the

“But here’s the most important part: All technologies end. Every technology that we use today will someday go away, and it will be replaced by something else.”

Thanks for the hot tip! I’m dumping all of my lever and wheel related stocks while those technologies are still at their peak. I am going to hold on to the inclined plane related stocks until just before wheelchair ramps reach 70-75% market saturation.

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