Eyeglasses, the Cold War and the World Wide Web

When someone says, “I’ll be brief.”, 99 times out of a 100  the opposite is true.

The same can be applied when someone states their technology will revolutionize or disrupt a particular market.  It is very rare when someone knows how a new technology will be disruptive in a particular way.  The many cascade effects of the introduction of new technology cannot be anticipated.

Some products are known to have a specific disruptive purpose from the start – such as nuclear weapons.  What was not known was the geopolitical impact as mutually assured destruction created the conditions for the Cold War.

Most disruptive technologies become disruptive because of the many innovative ways others will use it.  When the World Wide Web started to spread it was believed to be disruptive, but did anyone really see all of the effects?

Yep.  That's practical.
Yep. That’s practical.

Many disruptive products were not intended to be disruptive at all.  The invention of eyeglasses created a significant competitive advantage as it allowed people, mostly elderly, to continue their work life much longer than previous.  The eyeglasses were addressing the problem of poor eyesight – not increasing productivity.

It is often the case that a technology that is touted as disruptive, wasn’t disruptive at all. The Segway would change transportation – or not.

I am still waiting for my flying car as well.

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