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


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), 20 Aug 2010 @ 9:01am

    Re: Silphium

    I'd go look at your history again. Rome no more had a free market (no ancient economy did) than Stalinist Russia or Maoist China did. Rome's bureaucrats controlled, as best they could in the time, production of most everything Rome itself needed and to hell with the rest of the Empire. Everything was aimed at feeding, housing, watering and weaponry that Rome needed.

    From a military perspective Rome didn't fall because of outsourcing their defense "industry" than they did by loose discipline, the employment of too many mercenaries who had no real interest in defending Rome itself, Rome's complete inability to respond to "pagan" (in the ancient sense rather than popular sense today) and "barbarian" adaptations of new or improved technology and the simple reason that it was costing far too much money for Rome to continue to hold onto everything.

    And we tend to forget that when Rome itself fell the Empire continued to exist for another thousand years in the East with the capital city of Constantinople by and large because they did make military adaption, were more efficient administrators and, to a small degree, the adaptation of an early form of something we'd recognize as free markets.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.