Ruling the waves

Every new and disruptive technology looks like a wave, at least in my experience. Waves are quite something to watch. They are even more interesting to ride.

Understanding the basic concept of a wave, helps you to master it.

Knowing how waves act, helps to grow your business.

In order to fully understand the power of technological waves and how they alter and affect business and society it certainly helps to read ‘Ruling the waves. From the compass to the Internet, a History of Business and Politics along the Technological Frontier’

The book (yes, paper) was written by Debora L. Spar, professor at the Harvard Businness School and was published in 2001.

You really should read it.

And if you do not have the time to do so, which is propably the case, look at the few sentences I selected and quoted.

Phase One: Innovation

‘In the beginning, of course, there is innovation. This is the stage of tinkerers and inventors, a stage marked by laborious exploration and the sudden thrill of discovery. It is the sexiest phase along the technological frontier, a time that sparks the imagination and provides motivation for the next generation of dreamers and planners’.

Phase Two: Creative Anarchy

‘Once technology is out of the labs and in the public eye, a whole new cast of characters moves onto the frontier. These are the characters usually associated with the frontier: the pioneers, the pirates, the marshals, and the outlaws. They are the ones who define the new territory and bring it to life. In this second phase, the commercial benefits of innovation have become clear. People can now see how the technology will tranfer to a mass market and what kinds of profits can be made from it.’

Phase Three: Commercialization

‘Problems begin to crop up along the frontier, compromising the commerce that has already emerged and threatening its longterm development. These problems are not the same for every technology; they appear with varying ferocity and after different gaps of time. Almost certainly, though, they will develop. And the pioneers that now people the frontier will demand their resolution. Consider, for example, the issue of property rights.’

Phase Four: Rules

‘When a technology is new, it usually looks so radical, so untamable, that those closest to its creation can’t conceive of it being governed. This is particularly true-as with oceanic trade, radio, or cyberspace-when the technology reveals a space that, for practical purposes at least, hadn’t been there before.’

‘During the innovation and commercialization phases, the very idea of governance seems absurd. What occurs during the phase of creative anarchy, though, is critical; for it is here that even the pioneers begin to realize the costs of chaos.’

Where do we stand?

Applied to today’s media and publishing markets I would say we are definitely in Phase Four. Producers of original content want to be paid, not ripped off. New and more closed networks and domains are popping up and replacing the web’s open systems. Tablets, smartphones and i/e books are the real turning points and the tipping points!

One Response to Ruling the waves

  1. […] intellectual framework behind my thinking has been the vision of Debora Spar and my view of change as a wave. Waves never act as a one way street. It’s always back and […]

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