Sound + Film = a polarizing innovation

In a recent blog post we looked what innovation is and what makes Booktrack innovative. After the fact, innovation is lauded as an important step in technological improvement and change. But when the innovative product or concept is first introduced to the market, it’s not always accepted at first.


Take a look at the definition of Disruptive Technology:

dis·rup·tive  tech·nol·o·gy        /dis’reptiv  tek’näleje/

Adjective: 1.  innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network, 

2.  is polarizing: paradigm-shifting, anger-inducing, and light bulb-busting.  Love it or hate it. Very little middle ground. It’s a disruptive idea when people trying to protect the status quo hate it.

A great example is what happened in the film industry when sound was first added. Before soundtracks were added to films, the musical score was played by a live orchestra. Naturally with their jobs threatened by “canned” soundtracks; they tried to fight this innovation.  So they launched an expensive ad campaign (>$500k in 1930!) featuring a dastardly, maniacal robot as the symbol of the evil of recorded sound. While it is amusing to look back at the ads they produced, like the one above (you can find more here), what is probably more surprising is the reaction to whole ensemble – film with sound – by the newspapers at the time.

It was described by Time Magazine in the late 1920’s as, “the effect is startling, but often annoying” and Literacy Digest said “…it makes a double assault on the nerves…”!

We cannot imagine film without sound and we probably cannot imagine listening to a live orchestra play the Bond theme while we settle back to watch Skyfall. What was polarizing at the time has become accepted as a critical innovation in the film industry.

We believe that one day people will look back on reading and wonder how we use to read without the option of listening to a synchronized soundtrack, and Booktrack will be the innovation to reading that sound was to film.


Image: A robot grinding up musical instruments (November 3, 1930 Syracuse Herald).

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