Monthly Archives: January 2014

Disruptive is not quite as disruptive, it seems

Reuters has a great little tool showing the evolution of various buzzwords (via Boingboing). One of the worrying things is that “disruptive” is showing a remarkable growth:


I see this tendency (as it is with most buzzwords) that anything new (be it a technology or something else) that replaces something old is termed “disruptive”. A disruptive technology or innovation, however, as coined by Clayton Christensen, is an innovation where the incumbent companies are the ones least able to respond to it. This tends to be because the new product or service has these characteristics:

  1. Your best customers don’t want it. These demanding customers (and you want demanding customers, right?) are willing to pay top dollar for a better product – hence you try to make your product better to suit them. You then ignore the customers who does not need, nor are willing to pay, for the performance.
  2. Its performance is worse – at least in the dimensions traditionally used to measure performance. In Christensen’s original example – the disk drive industry – the existing customers wanted hard drives with more storage and higher access speed. They initially ignored the physical size of the disk drive, allowing new companies to gain dominance as new, physically smaller disk drives became available.
  3. If you entered that market, you would lose money. A disruptive innovation attacks from below – with lower profit margins. A former CEO of a minicomputer company expressed it this way: “When the PCs came, we had a choice: Selling $200,000 minicomputers with 60% profit margins, or $4,000 PCs with 20% profit margins. What would you choose?”

The funny thing is, companies launching new products keep calling them “disruptive” – do they really want to say that their products are undesirable, poor and offering low profit margins? They might want to say that, but in my view most real disruptors prefer to keep their mouths shut and build their profitability under the radar of their entrenched competitors.

In other words, if a product is launched as disruptive, it probably isn’t.

25 reasons to visit Norway

As some of our friends, who to our delight turn up almost every summer, have already found: 25 reasons Norway Is The Greatest Place On Earth.

I’ll add a 26th: The Gulf Stream, which ensures that the water in the Oslo fjord reaches 23 Celsius at least once every summer, and then I can swim (my wife will happily swim until it freezes over.)

And while we are at it, how about a 27th: Prekestolen (Pulpit Rock), not only for the view of and from it, but because it is devoid of safety fences, warning signs and concession stands. Caveat emptor…


Notice: Regular carping about living in a small and remote country will resume shortly.

New workstation setup

This is quite bit on the “not really interesting to anyone else” side, but, anyway, I have gone off and spent quite a bit of my research budget on new hardware, specifically a new workstation for myself. As of a few days ago, I am the proud owner (well, user) of a fully spec’ed out iMac, rendering my home working space thusly:


(I first thought about getting the new Mac Pro, but after reading this article and taking a more realistic look at my own needs I decided for the iMac.)

I have also installed Parallels, because a) I like Microsoft Live Writer, Komposer and a few other tools that are only available in Windows, because my employer demands Windows (yes, I am working on changing that) and because the Office package works better in a Windows environment, as I found out recently when trying to use Office for Mac and PC interchangeably in a mail merge setting and ending up doing everything twice. Parallels seems to work fine, with the exception of some keyboard issues (necessitating fiddling with configuration files and various three-finger keyboard combinations) and a not very intuitive screen management system. Oh well.

The build quality and performance of the iMac is quite something to behold – wonderfully crisp screen, makes my two older screens look quite shabby in comparison. Every other connection (network, Scansnap, Brother wireless printer Just Works, which is the way it is supposed to be. The Mac keyboard is nice to the touch, but the key combinations are a bit tricky, and reprogramming them to be more compatible across the two different environments will be, I suspect, quite a bit of fiddling in the years to come.

Anyway, I am now fully Mac’ed up, but with Windows compatibility, in a nod to the environment I primarily have worked in the last 20 years or so. The hardware quality of the Mac is extremely high, as is the design factor, but the software still leaves some to be desired – the differences are not great, but they are there, and I want the flexibility. One of my colleagues actually has a late model iMac and uses it almost exclusively as a Windows machine (he boots into Windows with Bootcamp). I would like to explore the native Mac apps (Pages, Numbers and Keynote, especially Keynote) but given that I write and develop things collaboratively I cannot base myself on them entirely.

My main reason for getting the iMac, however, is that I want to start fiddling a bit with video editing. I did an interview on the future of technology and computing in the next 5 years (in Norwegian), and asked to get the raw material for my own purposes – time to see to what extent I can use the technology to be in more than one place at once, flip the classroom, fiddle with a MOOC (or, well, more like a SPOC), or perhaps just animate some presentations. There certainly should be enough horsepower for the foreseeable future…and a rather cool home office. All I need now is an Aeron chair (ordered), a desk with a glass top with someone to polish it, a cleaner for all the dust and junk, a black turtleneck sweater, a head shaver and a personal trainer, and I should be well on my way to digital guru status.

Oh well, if it only was that easy…