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. identicon
    JC, 20 Aug 2010 @ 9:09am

    Re: Re: Steel

    I enjoy how you don't see the connection between unions and "aging plants".

    As someone who has been in a union, I can safely say that they are *almost* useless, with a few notable exceptions. The problem with unions is simple - when they start they usually have goals like, fair wages, safe working conditions, and improved working conditions (eg. paid sick time, vacation, etc.). Once those goals are achieved, the union has no real reason to exist.

    Unfortunately, in order to achieve those goals the union forms a hierarchy with group leaders, negotiators, secretaries, treasurers, and maybe even a president. At that point, the union exists to support the continued existence of the union and thats when it all goes to sh!t. Now the unions goals become, protect workers jobs (at all costs - it doesn't matter if they sleep on the job, they're in the the union), protect the hierarchy of the union (I will be president forever), etc.

    Also, read up about the unions at some of the "Big 3." The UAW is notorious for creating a work environment that involves drugs, prostitutes, etc.

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