Probably we will not go back to the telegraph, but when everything is ‘innovatively disrupted’, where will we go?
At least in one area, close to my heart, we will perhaps go backwards: the book. I am talking about that thing with physical pages made of that thing called paper that you could actually hold in your hands and it makes you think, or smile.
The death of the physical book has been announced for years under the conquest by e-books, digital reading, small screens, well, all things digital.
Bookstores are not making money and book chains such Borders Books have disappeared. Always the example quoted. In the UK, Waterstones and others closed many bookstores. Death, death.
Until Nielsen (‘information and measurement company’) announces that, actually, books sales have gone up. Up!? Suddenly Waterestones-like book chains make profit. Interestingly, and I don’t know how significant this is, a reviewer says that ‘it seems one of the contributing factors to the increase in book sales are books authored by “YouTube Stars” where they have used YouTube as a channel to market their published hardcopy book’. Children books have also increased their sales. So, has the death of the book been grossly exaggerated? I hope so!
For book lovers like myself this is good news. Beyond the unmatchable pleasure of having a physical book in my hands, preferable if their pages smell (old books talk to me via my nostrils as much as my eyes), I think physical books are companions of a high league, distant by miles from screens of all sizes.
But beyond these taste considerations it is the broader issue of whether all predictions of ‘disruptive innovation’ have to be taken both as inevitable and as face value.
For me, Backwards Disruptive Innovation (trademark pending, I may apply for this…) means to rewind life a bit, once the whole thing has been going forward at full steam. In this category I have the above-mentioned ‘books’, once all has been digitalised; the face to face conversation, once all has been compressed into 140 characters (by the way, even Twitter is playing with the potential ‘disruptive innovation’ of getting rid of the 140 characters constrain) and the physical letter in the post, once all has been emailed, from congratulations, to I love you, to you are fired.
My favourite Backwards Disruptive Innovation, though, is silence. I am trying to get funding to bottle silence. The market is infinite.