‘Disruption’ is a buzz-word, and the problem with buzz-words is overuse. They very quickly lose their power and meaning, becoming empty vessels, terms lightly thrown around as vague concepts rather than powerful actions. ‘Sustainability’ has long suffered this fate and now ‘disrupt’ is taking its turn at being misunderstood. So, why do all the aspirational words get abused? Probably because they provide an ideology that people are collectively drawn towards, but if we aren’t careful, or don’t re-appropriate them, they will fall victim to the corporate-speak of meaninglessness. Disruption in the tech space is all about selling more stuff, making more stuff cheaper and perpetuating the systems of un-sustainability.
I’m all about rescuing or ‘re-hijacking’ terms such as these for positive social change. Disrupting is what rebels do, it’s the domain of protagonists, provocateurs and revolutionaries— yet the term ‘disruption’ has become synonymous with the tech world with marginal improvements and sexy superficial design changes. Just starting something ‘techy’, is apparently disrupting something else! But newness does not equate to disruptive change, certainly not positive social change. Design as a profession is based on shifting, iterating, adding, subtracting, re-purposing, and yes, revolutionising the product, system or service that currently exists to serve particular functions or fill specific needs. Everyone can be disruptive by design, it’s all about intent and conviction.