Reproduction of Disruption

Peter Jones Media Ecology, Strategic Innovation, Transformation Design

How Innovation Regimes Reproduce Culture Media Ecology Association, Toronto, June 20, 2014 “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us”  John Culkin, SJ (Usually attributed to his friend, Marshall McLuhan) We live in a technogenic culture – a society that generates ever more technology, whether necessary or not. Mainstream culture celebrates the economic value of technological ingenuity, and worships innovation. Our desires become captured and entranced by the tools of tech. In this post-age of ubiquitous smart-things, everyone now “owns technology,” or gadgets – whether a smartphone, stack of computers, soon personal robots.  For the first time in history perhaps, there is little differentiation between generational ownership – children, the elderly, very poor people – all have similar gadgets. There may finally be little or no cachet to having the latest hardware or gadget. The desirable commodity has become the capacity to produce technology. The capacity for mass self-production with 3D printing and “desktop app publishing” represents an entry point toward the ownership of technology as the medium itself.  Owning an app or a capacity says more about …

To hate on the Internets, Click Here.

Peter Jones Media Ecology, Strategic Foresight, Strategic Innovation

In the current Guardian, American novelist Jonathan Franzen writes “What’s wrong with the modern world?”  Franzen retrieves cranky German polemicist Karl Kraus from the 1930’s to buttress a literary critique of the cultural evaporation accelerated by Big Capital solutionist appropriation of the Internets. Perhaps because there are so few public techno-critics in literary culture in the 21st Century, Franzen seems to own this space for an epic rant (and new book) that pierce our culture’s enamoration with all things interactive, online, gamified, and ultimately, trivial. In the face of the scale of real-world problems faced by our civilization, Franzen is warning that our distraction with the entertaining and trivial, and our failure to invent beneficial alternatives,  is costing us our culture: “… the actual substance of our daily lives is total distraction. We can’t face the real problems; we spent a trillion dollars not really solving a problem in Iraq that wasn’t really a problem; we can’t even agree on how to keep healthcare costs from devouring the GNP. What we can all agree to do instead is to deliver ourselves …

Deflationary economies yield free-product ecologies

Peter Jones Media Ecology, Social Innovation, Strategic Innovation

As someone who gets paid to do foresight research, I have a brief response to the Fast Company article How To Thrive In The Free-Product Economy. They state as a “law:” If a product on the market can be monetized by any means other than directly selling it, a comparable version of that product will eventually be offered for free. The problem here is the word “monetized.”  And the word “eventually,” which is a long time. But let’s piece apart the dynamics and see why this is the case. Prices continuing to drop in the face of new entrants in a market is not a given. Competitive dynamics are different based on positioning, market share, strategy.  In the 1980’s prices went up as new entrants competed on features. Televisions did not get cheaper, and consumer commodities such as video rental and CDs raised prices  over the decade, even with cheaper production technology. It was an inflationary time, and it was not all bad. Inflationary periods employ a larger proportion of the population, people buy things, demand rises,suppliers have pricing power. …

Wikipedia – The Sound of a Million Monkeys Typing

Peter Jones Civil media, Information Ecology, Media Ecology, Strategic Innovation

Britannica finally shut down its print version, and of course pundits blamed Wikipedia. They might have blamed Britannica online, on which you can search for free and read longer pieces. Just like Wikipedia. We, the Weberati,  have been entranced by the rapid growth and apparent cooperative organization of the free-to-read Wikipedia.  Academics and commentators have largely accepted Wikipedia’s superiority as a “matter of fact” and many present the unimaginable volume of the resource as proof of the viability of the open, online wiki system. I’m reviving an old issue  that has never been resolved and remains live for me. CAN Wikipedia get better over time?  How would we know?  How would we measure improvement?  Would we ever agree?  I’m not convinced that it will improve beyond its current state. It is still quite an accomplishment, but is still not the miracle we are expected by current social norm to respect. Last year, Time published a fair overview of the history of Wikipedia. They revise the Britannica controversy by claiming the reverse now, that Wikipedia is almost as correct as Britannica. …