Revoultions are chaotic

A tweet from Jeff Jarvis led me to Clay Shirky’s post: Newspapers and thinking the unthinkable.

Clay looks back to Gutenberg and says that while we understand a lot about the world before printing and even more about the world after, it’s even more interesting to look at the transition: a significant period of time when things were in flux, the old model broken but the new one(s) not yet established. That’s what we’re going through now. He’s focussing on newspapers but the parallels cover lots of other businesses.

That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place. The importance of any given novelty isn’t apparent at the moment it appears; big changes stall, small changes spread. Even the revolutionaries can’t predict what will happen.

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