Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Half-Life of Disruption.

What's the half-life of a disruptive force?

Many moons ago, when there were still only a relative few of us on Twitter (14 November 2008), I tweeted:

"Been thinking about the half-life of information on Twitter. What do you think--24 hours? When does something become old news here?"

+Robert Scoble soon thereafter posted a video talking about the half-life of information on websites, blogs, and Twitter (apologies for not having a link to his video, but 4 years on Twitter = multiple eons). I don't know if @scobleizer was replying to my tweet--I would STILL feel flattered if he had been!--but his video was both informative and considered.

Clearly, the half-life of information on social media sites has shrunk much more since then: Expanding participants plus shrinking attention equals decreased half-life. This, naturally, has had an effect on disruptive forces, shortening the cycle of change as well.

The @Uber Boston story this week is a prime example. Within days, we moved from Boston and Cambridge suspending Uber's ability to conduct business, to Uber and its users creating a massive response, to the lifting of the cease-and-desist order yesterday:


How long would this have gone on even 5 years ago?

To capitalize on disruptive forces, you need to be an entrepreneur, certainly. But I think you need to have a bit of the highwayman and the street con as well.

That wary, watchful gaze comes in handy when opportunities ride by. That willingness to push something from the gray fringes into the central marketplace's light is essential.

Disruption may smack of illegality, or even immorality, to some. Making it acceptable is the work of the entrepreneur, the official, and the consumer.

Disruption compels our participation.

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