Business – Articles Index
I have recently been talking about the potential impact of Airbnb on the hotel industry: to be specific on the luxury hotel industry. Airbnb is a huge intermediary service, linking those providing accommodation with those seeking it. It was launched on 2008, when it was famously said to have been a web app that offered a sofa in someone’s flat to a backpacker as the core of its business.
I think it is time to ask ‘why has the innovation story gone so badly wrong? Joshua Rothman pushed me into thinking about this question when I read an article in the New Yorker on ‘Creativity Creep’. Joshua Rothman is a writer for The New Yorker, interested in books, culture and ideas. I am not going to summarise his provocative and thoughtful article here, but I want to start by quoting one key sentence…
There were two communities, on either side of a deep and dangerous ravine. Every so often someone would try to cross from one side to the other. It was almost impossible to climb down safely, and most died in the attempt. Even if someone did get to the bottom, there was a swirling, fast moving river, which it was impossible to cross. No one had managed to go from one community to the other.
In 1908, a young academic at the University of Cambridge published a short guide for the academic politician; a satire that – like most – contains more truth than it might appear (Francis Cornford, Microcosmographia Academica,Cambridge: Bowes and Bowes, 1905). Francis Cornford had observed his learned colleagues at work, and noted that there were some key strategies they used, especially to stop any changes taking place …
Twenty-five years ago, the fall of the Iron Curtain heralded more than just the collapse of the Russian communist ‘experiment’. It was seen as the vindication of the two great pillars of the American way of life – democracy and the free market. Commentators, journalists and many academics celebrated this in a continuing series of articles, books and discussions on the theme of convergence … surely everyone in the world is going to end up living like we do.