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
    TtfnJohn (profile), 20 Aug 2010 @ 9:11am

    Re: Re: Where is this ride going to end?

    Of all the things he talks about voice recognition is by far the hardest thing to do _and_ get right. In the English speaking world considering that a person from the countryside in Yorkshire or Cornwall has problems being understood by other English speakers as do people from some areas of the United States and Canada. Then there's the Caribbean, Australasia, Africa and all the ESL people from the rest of the world. (Chinlish or Japlish anyone?) THEN take into account local slang that a native English speaker has a chance of figuring out when it's heard in context. I don't know of a "successful" voice recognition program that can do all of that or one that can understand more than a few words spoken in preprogrammed phrases in the correct accent and delivery.

    Anyway, these days the accent at the other end of the phone is more likely to be Phillipine than India. Call centres in India are getting too expensive cause people with actual brain cells can make more money, more easily elsewhere in India now. ;-)

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