Posted by: crudbasher | February 2, 2012

Legislation Cannot Stop Disruptive Innovation

Most of the people reading this blog know what SOPA is/was. It was a bill in the US Congress that was written in response to online piracy of media. One of the worst provisions of the bill was it would force ISPs to block the addresses of copyright infringers by blocking DNS requests. Every device on the net has an IP address in the form of 4 number. For example, is a common address used in internal networks. Those numbers are hard to remember though so there is another part of the net called DNS or Domain Name Services. This is a series of master directories on the net that work so that if you ask for it goes and looks up the 4 number address. It is this matching that makes the net work as well as it does. If SOPA had passed it would have tampered with this. Pirates would still have been able to access their networks via the direct IP address so really it wouldn’t have done what it was intended.

The bigger point about this is it is the media companies were trying to buy some congresspeople and legislate scarcity. Note to the media companies: If your business model is based on scarcity of your product, you are in trouble.

If it’s digital, then it’s not scarce. I have said this for two years now but I just realized it applies to teachers too. One way to define a teacher (but not the only way) is a person who has information and can impart it to students. A teacher’s value would then be calculated by how many other ways you can get this information. It’s a scarcity model that is being disrupted by the Internet. You can’t be a teacher unless you have an education degree. That’s a restriction that creates scarcity. Your students can get federal loans unless you are accredited. That’s a restriction that creates scarcity.

Teachers and schools are banning laptops and smartphones from the classroom. Why? They don’t want any competition, therefore creating a scarcity of information. Some businesses are realizing that if you can’t out innovate your competitors, you have to legislate your competitors out of existence.

This won’t work. Fortunately, many teachers are realizing they have to do more than just pour information into empty heads.

    • In Estonia’s Tallinn University of Technology, all electronic devices — like notebooks, tablets and smartphones — are now banned in lectures held by the Institute of Public Administration. The restriction, which according to the institute aims to reduce factors interfering with academic work, came as a surprise to most of the university-goers. Moreover, it came just a day before the country’s Ministry of Education announced a plan that by 2020 all textbooks and other literature would be turned into e-books and in eight years students are expected to start using computers and tablets to access study materials.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.



  1. […] therefore schools can command a premium price for access. This is also an economic idea. If a resource is no longer scarce, then the price will […]

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