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
    Dark Helmet (profile), 20 Aug 2010 @ 9:43am

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

    Actually discussed some of the pitfalls of voice recognition software in Echelon:

    "But if the congruent character malfunction was a serious impedance for software designed to interpret the written word, programmers generally agreed that it made automated voice recognition software a downright impossibility. You could multiply all the common fonts in type written language several times and not come close to the amount of accents, colloquialisms, and minor inflections that regularly occurred in everyday human speech. How would a language recognition program, somewhat adept at discerning the intricacies of the written word, make similar differentiations between modulated speech patterns? The answer was that it couldn’t.

    Take a relatively simple sentence: Can you all make it to the party tonight? Now transform that sentence phonetically using different regional colloquialisms. A young man from Boston could say it, and it would come out Can yah all make it tah the pahty tahnight? Or an aged woman from Southern Texas: Kin ya’ll make it to der perty tonaht? Even failing to take into consideration the difference in syntax and other machinations that existed in entirely different languages, those differences made speech to data programming seemingly impossible."

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