Disruptive digital technologies don’t come from the incumbents

According to Barbara van Schewick, disruptive digital technologies don’t come from incumbents. As she said in a recent Berkman talk:

Classifieds were revolutionized by Craigslist and eBay, not by the newspapers. Music distribution was revolutionized by Napster, Kazaa, Bittorrent, or iTunes, not by the music industry. The commercial potential of the World Wide Web was realized by Netscape, not by Microsoft.

And online bookstores got off the ground with Amazon, which was founded by a former senior vice-president at a quantitative hedge fund with a degree in computer science and electric engineering, not by Barnes and Noble. My research suggests that this is not an accident.

It really makes me wonder where the next big revolution in public radio is going to come from. If these other industries are any indication, the next big thing probably won’t come from the CBCs, NPRs, or BBCs of the world.

cf. Nora’s interview with Barbara for Spark, recorded this afternoon.