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The sky’s the limit when it comes to our online options for connecting, exploring, communicating and gathering information. Whether you are avid, luke warm or barely in, digital living is here to stay. Let’s take a look at the digital disruptors that redefined our everyday activities.

Phones, movies and shopping as digital disruptors

a remote control, box of popcorn and a cd

 

I’m rather intrigued by our progression over the last twenty plus years. From traditional ways of communication and entertainment to our current digital definition of how we talk and play, there are key components that influenced this progression. Below is a short list of game changing ‘digital disruptors.’ By no means is this meant as a comprehensive list but rather, a few of my personally notable things. Please feel free to add your own ideas in the comments section.

  • Walking and talking on a cell phone versus talking on a phone mounted to a wall. With a long, curly cord.
  • Making it a Netflix or Amazon night versus renting VHS tapes and DVDs at Blockbuster
  • Sitting on your sofa and shopping online versus walking around the mall 
  • Connecting with friends via social media versus getting together and chatting face-to-face
  • Sending an email or text to a loved one versus composing a handwritten note

The good, the bad and the ugly of digital disruption

There are certainly positive and negative perspectives about these changes. We can now do many things at home as we sip some wine and hang out in our pjs. (Yep, that is me as I blog!) However, have we embraced convenience and ease at the cost of physical movement and meaningful dialogue?

No doubt there are generation-based and thereby, inherent preferences. I seem to find myself somewhere in the middle. By the nature of what I do as a profession, I embrace and celebrate online activity. I enjoy the easy interaction and convenience of quick connections. Feedback and engagement are instant. I’ve bought into instant gratification. Yep, I admit it.

That said, I also appreciate the personal touch of a handwritten note and the communal feeling personal dialogue. Former Chancellor Sullivan at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro blessed many of us with her thoughtful, handwritten notes of appreciation. As recipients, we felt acknowledged and recognized. And most certainly, walking together or gathering over a meal elevates our conversations. We can readily see mood, tone, emotion and body language. It’s intimate and authentic.

Amazon, a king of digital disruption

amazon truck with two trailers and a blue cab

What about the most recent disruptor? It’s equal to $13.7 billion and it’s called Amazon acquires Whole Foods. A mammoth like Wal-Mart, which holds 25% of the grocery market, could see a decline in online ordering. Fresh ingredient delivery services such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, digital disrupters on their own, could face a battle from a competitive cost perspective

What say you about the Amazon deal and digital disruptors overall? Fan? Foe? Friendly? I welcome your shared experiences and perspectives.


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11 Comments

EdM · June 27, 2017 at 1:48 pm

I am s fan of technology and all the modern “stuff” we can do…

    Marsha · July 1, 2017 at 2:12 am

    A recent read and now a favorite book is “Third Wave” by Steve Case. Written ob this topic, You would enjoy it.

Martha · June 27, 2017 at 2:57 pm

Gotta have my “face-to-face time” to get hugs, kisses, eye contact that speaks volumes, shared laughs and cries, etc. I love social media but nothing takes the place of face to face. Great article Deb. Really made me think about it. It certainly does allow you to connect to someone faster and, therefore, get needed answers more quickly. It keeps you from having to have boring and long conversations with those who tend to go on and on. Lots of pluses with just a few minuses.

Dee Taylor · June 28, 2017 at 11:57 am

I will have to say that I feel we have lost so much of the tender touches of visits handwritten letters notes ,, and simple love

Joe Sellars · June 30, 2017 at 12:40 am

Well, my friend CoolDeb, I’ll mention renting VHS tapes from Blockbuster and leave it at that. Our neighborhood Blockbuster has been a thrift store for quite a while now. Regarding that phone on a wall thing, I did see one at the airport in Boston in January, and it wasn’t a museum piece! They’re still very few and far between these days.

Andrea Spencer · June 30, 2017 at 12:47 am

This is TOOOOO awesome. TigerMoth Creative is reinventing the School of Education magazine at UNCG. On my list of suggested names – Disruptor…Disruption….Disrupting….

Great minds~

Helen · July 1, 2017 at 2:27 am

Nice memory of Chancellor Sullivan’s notes. I always enjoy receiving your kind notes too. It is amazing how the ditigal age changed how, when and what we communicate. Some of it great but some of it creates a lack of respect for each other and are own sensibilities. (Twitter & Facebook postings that lash out and just stupid YouTube video)

Devin · July 1, 2017 at 2:46 am

Debbie Schallock nice read. It awes me how far digital has come. I remember passing notes in class ( when i wasn’t around people who knew sign) because we didn’t have phons until that next week our parents got us flip phone. Or… I remember having a portable CD player. Omg and you talk about block buster…. good times. ( even if i was growing up when they were dying out )

Nancy · July 3, 2017 at 3:54 pm

I had quite a collection of road maps. They were free at most gas stations. GPS has made them unnecessary.

Nancy · July 3, 2017 at 6:29 pm

One more? Instead of yesteryear’s expensive long distance phone calls, I love this one! I just FaceTimed my family at Emerald Isle, NC. Was able to visit my children,grandchildren, great grandchild. Kevin looked great!

Robert · July 12, 2017 at 1:56 am

As someone who has worked in the industry delivering the networks that make all this connectivity possible, I found this post very interesting. I’ve been in telecom for 26 of the last 34 years. Back in the 80’s, I was building out MCI’s long distance network since the courts had just broken up the old bell system. I remember an old man saying to me with envy, “I wish I were you so I could see what technology is going to bring us in the next 40 years.” While I’m not sure he’d approve of all the things it’s brought us, he would no doubt be amazed as I am reflecting on all the changes technology has produced over the years. Sometimes the technology itself is the disruptor as it was in the long distance game. Digital voice technology made networks cheaper with better voice quality and the competition that followed made it cheaper for the consumer and kicked off a technological revolution that’s 30+ years old and still going strong. A decade later, after a few years out of telecom working radar systems and DoD contracts, I got back in the game just as the digital revolution was coming to the mobile phone network. Around this time the internet was also gaining momentum and mobile data was in its infancy. The first system for that always on connection moved data at what was then considered a decent speed of 19.2Kbps. Comparable to that of the typical dial up connection of the day. Again the new technology made networks cheaper and gave rise to several competitors which of course spurred more innovation. Looking at what’s possible with wireless connections today (I’ve done speed tests where the results showed throughputs over 100 Mbps) I have to chuckle at how excited I was having that first always on connection and as I approach the twilight of my career, I think about the words of Jack Bobier (the old man in my first telecom gig). I sometimes wish I was going to be doing this 35 years from now just to see what technology will bring.

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