Does this have anything to do with playing the mandolin?
When Giants Fail
Not sure where it would be applicable to mandolin, but it's a great article. I read it last week at the recommendation of co-worker.
Clark 2-point #39
Rigel A Natural
Interesting. I read the abstract and my understanding of it is that "disruptive technologies" can succeed in a manner contrary to what we usually expect. Our expectation is that the better quality technology will drive the advance of an industry to ever-better (in terms of quality and performance) products. The free-market will reward the innovators of ever better quality products. It seems that the author's premise is that a slightly different outcome results; lower quality products/technology can supplant better quality, so long as the end consumer is satisfied with the price and performance, to the point where the "better" product or company eventually can no longer compete.
Application to mandolins? There is the ongoing discussion on this forum regarding the quality of imported instruments from Asia. Some say they are inferior quality, some say they are not. Without debating that in this thread, it seems that these instruments are gaining market share among mandolin players. Are the buyers of the "new" technology buying these in favor of the "old" tech? Are there people who would have bought a Gibson, Weber, etc. but now are buying "Pac-Rim" instead, or is it more likely that those buying the lower cost mandolins would probably not have spent the additional money required to get the "old" tech? Is there any reason to think that the lower quality but greater affordability of the new brands will eventually run the established "high quality" brands out of business? Not likely IMHO.
Application to mandolin playing? I think not. Are there any examples of an established acknowledged great player who is being replaced by a newer player who is actually less proficient, but "good enough" for the consumer because they are "less expensive"? To me it seems that the newer players are "better" (they play cleaner, play faster, more complex tunes, etc.) than their musical predecessors. If anything, when it comes to any performance-oriented pursuit (music, athletics) the newcomers are raising the performance bar, not lowering it.
The article suggests the necessity of going down paths with less obvious or immediate rewards to survive in a competitive environment. For mandolin, perhaps a bluegrass player spending time on Bach. Is this the type of thinking that we would generally associate with "great" mandolin players? How beneficial is it to go down these alternate paths for the one-hour-a-day player, who just wants to sound good at his or her local jam?
We're not competing for survival, but still.
The last part, about raising children, is what got me thinking about mandolin.
Last edited by JonZ; Jun-05-2012 at 11:50am.
Oh, and for disruptiveness... I guess an obvious comparison might be that Snark sells a whole lot more tuners than Peterson, so Peterson might consider a $20 low-end offering.
Jon - Thanks for the clarification regarding approach to playing; obviously I was thinking along different lines. I can't speak for the great players, but I know my experience has been that playing a variety of styles, genres and instruments all works to expand my skill and musical vocabulary.
Maybe another possible mandolin analogy would be Eddie Vedder's playing, particularly on the song "Rise." I love that song, open strings, two-finger chords and all. One could say that his playing is not as technically sophisticated or skilled as most of our favorite mandolin players. But, he was pretty successful with that song. No he is not going to run Tim O'Brien, Mike Compton or Adam Steffey out of business with his different style of playing, but there is a segment of the market that may prefer it. It may benefit some of the mando masters to explore the simpler, less technically demanding style or not. Maybe they have?
There is the implication that disruptive technologies are young, crude, and cheap... (Okay, I won't go there.)
I was thinking of disruptive technology as anything that is peculiar to your normal course of business, and does not present itself as creating maximum profit in the short term.
From a tech perspective, the phenomenon is obvious once you get away from the idea that complex and well-featured is equivalent to "best". MP3s don't have the best sound, but they sure were the best for internet music and small portable disk-based players. I love hearing a great stereo in SACD quality, but I can't listen while walking to work or skiing.
And to some extent, this is true in any aspect of life, including music. It's much harder in music, perhaps, because it's pretty hard to define what "better" music is. But if you stick with complexity, it's clear that the most complex music is not the one that dominates the market. 1st 2 Nickel Creek albums? both went gold within a year or two. Punch brothers? Nope.... Rebecca Black?
I read the article "When Giants Falls", and found the content totally inaccurate regarding "disk drive industries" (QUALITY GETTING WORST as drives got smaller and smaller)
The smaller disk drives (3.25" and 2.5") as we are using today are manufactured with much better technologies and achieve much higher level of quality then their older predecessors. I am a disk drive designer by trade (for 25+ years) and have seen the evolution of this product. It's amazing and continue to amaze me, there seems to be no end to the progress yet (capacity increase).
I remembered holding a pack of 8 heavy disks (with 300 MB storage total) 3 decades ago and today a small 2.5" drive in my pocket with 1 TB (one millions MBs !!!).
Few people realize what it takes to pack 1TB on a small disk drive like this. If the technologies and qualities are not up to par, this will not happen. Today disk drives always look for opportunities to self-repair to avoid errors reading data on disks, keep power consumption low (run cool and not hot), replacing bad area on the disks with good area (called spare), etc.... The old technology can't do that, it takes a lot of power to keep the 14", 8" disks pack spinning at constant speed. Another bad thing about larger disks is they have tendency to wobble more than the smaller disks. Wobbling causes a lot of trouble to a disk drive.
New technology also keeps the head flying at fixed distance from the disk surface, regardless of the air pressure and the temperature the drive operates at. All these things are made transparent to the users (who certainly only care about the final quality).
Of course with production level of a few hundred millions drives a year, there will be some small percentage that could go bad, and that's why there is a warranty for one to 3 years.
Disk Drive making requires a broad range of technologies (mechanical, magnetism, electronic, firmware), all are complex, so complex that today, there are only two major disk drive manufacturers left in the world. China cannot make hard disk drives. China was able to make almost anything today but hard disk drives.
China does host disk drive manufacturing for their low labor cost, but the design and manufacturing technology (tools, processes) still come from US.
Korea tried (with Samsung in Silicon Valley, US) for 15-20 years and now just gave up, sold to Seagate. Hitachi bought IBM disk drives, and just sold to Western Digital. Toshiba (also in Silicon Valley, US) made 2.5" drives for their laptops, has small market shares.
I don't really know if new technology has good or bad impacts on acoustic instruments, previous posts have dipped in many opinions which sound reasonable to me.