There was an interesting discussion on the last The Verge Show. Joshua Topolsky, editor in chief of The Verge talked with Tim Wu who coined the term Net Neutrality. During this talk he made an interesting point about industries getting disrupted all the time and that the companies that disrupt those industries will eventually turn into what they once fought.
The music industry we know today once was the disrupting force. As Tim Wu points out during the talk, the phonograph and record music killed sheet music and in some way music instrument makers. And the argument was no different from today. Sheet music makers said that record makers were pirates, taking their notes and turning them into playable music.
Before recorded music you would need to make your own music at home, hence buy sheet music of “the latest hit”, learn to play it and, of course, own some kind of an instrument may it be a violin, flute or piano.
Let’s think about this for a minute. If sheet music makers were suffering as well as music instrument makers who else was affected by this? I guess, in some way furniture makers who built seats for pianos and music stands. And of course music teachers. If more and more potential clients bought a gramophone instead of learning an instrument this also must have had an effect on their business. And I imagine, music shops also felt the pinch sooner or later as well as street musicians like the hurdy-gurdy man.
On the other hand, records brought the joy of music to far more people than sheet music, especially with another disruptive technology: the radio. But then again, radio brought us an universal music taste that has slowly but surely killed local music styles and folk music.
This really made me think of the parallels we are seeing today in the tutoring and life long education space. Online learning platforms and applications replace lots of tasks and topics learners once needed a tutor for. Online universities and learning platforms like Coursera bring quality education to far more people, but as Jason Calacanis in his interview with Sebastian Thrun of Udacity pointed out, this will also probably lay off the bottom 20% teachers who do not perform for whatever reason.
The question is: what will those startups be replaced with in twenty years as everyone becomes what he despise? My best guess are brain implants similar to what we know from the Matrix movies. You simply load what you want to learn directly into your brain. No social interaction or effort needed whatsoever.