Should We Be Interested In 'Saving' Any Industry?

from the forward-or-backwards dept

We hear it all the time, whenever anyone talks about an industry being "destroyed" by new technologies: "how do we save x industry?" where "x" can stand for "recording" or "news" or "movies" or whatever. We saw it just recently when a professor wanted to "save" the newspaper industry by changing copyright law in ridiculous ways. It's also why we jokingly called our last event "Techdirt Saves* Journalism." The whole concept of "saving" an industry is so preposterous, which is why we wanted to mock it with the title of our event. I was reminded of this when reading this recap of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) event, where Dan Gillmor was quoted saying:
"I'm not even slightly interested in saving the industry."
And it got me thinking about understanding the mindset of "saving" an industry more deeply. The truth is, whenever anyone seriously (not mockingly) refers to "saving" an industry, invariably, they're really talking about saving a few legacy companies in that industry from whatever disruptive innovation is shaking things up. It's never actually about "saving an industry," because the "industry" almost never actually needs to be saved. The industry may be in the process of being changed (often radically), but that's not the same thing as needing saving.

What's telling is that, through all of this, you almost never hear start-ups talking about asking for help trying to "save the industry" that they're in. That's because they know "the industry" is just fine, and in all of the upheaval there's really tremendous opportunity. So, anytime anyone talks seriously about "saving" any particular industry, challenge them on what they really mean, and see if they're actually just talking about saving a few companies, rather than saving an actual "industry."

Filed Under: industry, progress, protectionism, saving


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  1. icon
    P3T3R5ON (profile), 20 Aug 2010 @ 8:23am

    absolutly... not!

    Humanity has always progressed forward, sometimes in leaps and bounds other times at a snails pace. But always forward! Forward thinking.. progression.. reasoning..

    When flying cars arrive don't you expect to see the decline of the automobile, paved roads...

    When teleportation is a reality will not the airline industry dissapear?

    With the advent of lighter cars, better mpg, more creature comforts did not the cars of yesterday become scrap to the common commuter?

    Who here still uses a STARtac cellphone? Why not? Because we have Blackberries, iPhones, Droids, Evo's etc. We let go of the past, the outdated.

    Have we not always sought out newer TV's, computers, cars, cellphones, houses, etc ... BIGGER BETTER FASTER! The next generation of anything comes out and we want it. Then why are we even thinking about letting these aged burdens weight us down?

    What if I create a new and blossoming industry call "fiddle-faddle". We create things, wonderful things. But soon trouble hits and the industry is falling... down ... down .. down. Save us! We create wonderful things! Save our industry!

    WHY SHOULD WE? You failed to provide adiquitly, effectivly, with cost affordability. You can not keep up and must be cut off for the better.

    If a leg can not be saved, it is infected and useless, does a doctor not amputate it? Or does he spend 5x the amount of time, medicine, money and surgery trying to fix it. There are wonderful advances in prostetics.. a replacement. The leg dies off and is replaced with something newer and better.

    /end rant...

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