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Is innovation destructive or a force for good?

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For anyone of my age, keeping up with the pace of innovation and change can be a tiring prospect. But it’s also incredibly exciting, especially in the world of technology where I work at

A new pace of change

It seems like innovation and the pace of change is massively accelerating – but often, we really only start to understand the full effects of innovation many years later.Take the internet as an example. When I started as a journalist in 1995, the internet not only existed but was starting impinge on the public consciousness. The first issue of MacUser that I worked on had a cover which boldly stated that “the internet will change everything”. We were right – but it’s probably taken 20 years for the full impact of the internet to really appear.

innovation lightbulb

One example: Innovation in publishing

In publishing, we’ve seen a lot of innovation over the past 20 years. There has, of course, been the shift from print publishing to online, and some publishers and publications became casualties along the way. In technology publishing, where I make a living, the number of magazines which have fallen by the wayside in the past ten years is fairly big.

And even for those that survived, the future isn’t guaranteed. Innovation in publishing has meant a slew of new pure-digital competitors, which don’t have to carry the baggage of print working methods. The site I am editorial director for, is an example of this kind of pure-digital play, and it’s a very different proposition to the magazines I began my career on.

destructive defintion

Is destruction sometimes a force for good?

Viewed in this sense, innovation can clearly be destructive. To the journalists who worked on those now-departed computer magazines, the innovation of the internet represented a destructive force to something they probably loved.

However, it also allowed fresh, new products to grow – and for some of those journalists, those who have made the leap to online, it’s undoubtedly opened up new horizons for them. My own career has seen me be a reporter, an editor, and an editorial director – but also have jobs which didn’t even exist ten years before, like content strategist and head of social media.

And that’s why I’m looking forward to the discussion on the second day of Innovate 2015. We’ll be able to look at, and consider, innovation in all its guises – destructive, creative and whether it’s a force for good.

You can join in the conversation at Innovate 2015

Tuesday 10th November 15:45 - 16:30
ROOM: Grow Faster
Elizabetta Camilleri
Ian Betteridge
Joyeeta Das

You can follow Ian @ianbetteridge

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