‘Disruption’ Is a Two-Way Street - Deepstash

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Technological disruption

Technological disruption

Initially, the tech company was the lean, innovative underdog that took on the powerful status quo to free the consumer from how they viewed ideas, institutions and service delivery.

But tech can no longer claim that. The so-called tech disruptors of today have unchallenged access, funding, and regulatory support.

Disruption is sold as a one-way street where technology can change a social space if it is static but can't be changed in return. Yet, today's disruption is happening through users and networks, not tech companies.


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Example of disruption

Example of disruption

Grab and Gojek were mobility platforms meant to disrupt the city's existing motorbike taxi market by creating a driver workforce that was anonymised.

Instead, the Grab and Gojek drivers used WhatsApp to create thousands of DIY community spaces. Loose driver groups changed into independent, cross-company communities that were organised by drivers for drivers.

Yet, this type of disruption is not considered as such. Tech companies label Uber as an innovative disruption while motorbike taxis that provide a similar service are deemed dangerous or chaotic.


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The promise of disruption

The promise of disruption is much restrained by terms set by tech companies themselves. Companies increasingly try to prevent the ability to use and build upon existing technologies in ways that the original company does not approve of.

However, tech is never the first or last mover of change. It is just one of the forces within a complex social world. To design better technology means to take it out of the centre.

Technology that responds to people's needs sees users as more than just passive recipients will be best able to harness its power.


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