Changing frames of reference

Any incumbent enterprise relies on cultural frames of reference remaining unchanged. While the meaning remains the same, it will still make sense to do the work the way it's always been done and for the buyers to consume what is produced for the same old reasons. Slight improvements (sustaining innovations) won't upset the consensus trance. The frames of reference in constant use can remain unconscious, unchallenged and implicitly understood.

This reliance on unquestioned frames of reference becomes obvious when the frames starting changing culturally. We can suddenly see the frames of reference like:

  • efficient mass producing for mass consumption as if we all want the very same blockbuster things without customization or collaboration
  • delivering expertise from certified authorities as if information is scarce and difficult to verify
  • storing information with ink on paper that cannot be searched, copy/pasted. tagged, linked to or archived for free
  • expecting huge start-up costs in plant and equipment will limit competition as if the tools of digital production and distribution are capital intensive too

When the frames of reference change, it feels like the ground is no longer under our feet. We don't have a leg to stand on when arguing against the change in frames. The basis for succeeding has changed in ways that make "trying harder" seem futile and senseless. The kind of changes called for seem too deep to consider rationally.  Most are too frightened to "go there" or to 'get it".

This is a problem for any industry, media or governance structure affected by the emerging digital culture. It's a very big problem for journalism report on the changes and to make the changes also; likewise for mass media, higher education, military strategies of nation states and the centralized governance of local social services. The changes on the horizon will simply make more sense than continuing legacy practices. The new frames of reference will provide new ground to stand on and which enables us to feel good about what we deliver and consume.

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