Blogs as Disruptive Innovation

Just finished an interesting book by Christine Borgman (2007) – Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure and the Internet. What made this interesting was that I was reading this back to back with Clayton Christensen’s (2008) Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns.

Borgman does a nice job of capturing the shift from “logging on” to “always on” as an instructional environment, and compares and contrasts traditional modes of scholarly publication with the new electronic forms. She noted that, as we debate the complex issues associated with open access to information, such as managing trust, identity, location, and intellectual property, we need to remember that these are social issues first and technical issues second. Great point!

Christensen meanwhile noted the tendency for institutions to plan based on sustaining innovations, when the true impacts occur with disruptive innovations. Unlike revolutionary innovation, which completely replaces a previous process or entity (CD’s over vinyl, for instance), disruptive innovations start at the margins and eventually gain traction to the point where they then dominate the market. The personal computer started out as a toy for kids but incrementally improved to the point that it replaced mainframes. He pointed out how some disruptive web technology today could eventually create customized learning for every student … and how this could either positively or negatively impact schools.

This concept of innovation on the margin disrupting the status quo seems to fit blogging pretty well! I am still reflecting on my previous post about blogs as scholarship and the metrics associated with blogging. It seems to me the metrics will be less about the technology and more about the social side as I think through the implications of these two books.

Anyway…I will be offline for the rest of the week, so will think about this as I drive north for a few days!

{Photo Credit: FerPer}

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