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If you have been hanging around in HackerNews for the last few months chances are that you have seen at least one post similar to the following ones:

  • Disrupt Social Media
  • Help me Disrupt Health Care
  • Disrupting Mass Surveillance
  • Disruptive Innovation
  • Disrupt Sleep
  • Disrupt yourself

and even - Indian Inventor Disrupts The Period Industry

And the list goes on and on, disrupt is the new magical buzzword used by startups across the globe, and while I don't have a problem with the word disrupt or even the general use of buzzwords to describe concepts; I do have a problem with the inherited mentality that comes with the use of such magical buzzwords.

I propose that the use of such buzzwords murks the message of the startups using them to describe their product or service and even worse can damage the efforts of startups that are not jumping into the disruption bandwagon.

But wait a minute that can't be true, buzzwords are technical words or phrases that have become fashionable to explain certain terms within the industry, so they must be harmless well this is often not the case since these buzzwords come attached with some heavy baggage.

Let's put things into context and define what disrupt actually means and how is being used:

1 a : to break apart : rupture b : to throw into disorder agitators trying to disrupt the meeting 2 : to interrupt the normal course or unity of definition from merria-webster.com

Let that definition sink for a second, disrupt means break apart and interrupt; by that definition a majority of the articles, startups and new techs have been called disruptive are NOT actually disruptive.

Not all innovation disruptive nor it should be, disruption -- at least on terms of tech -- means that a new technology comes to displace an existing one.

With that said, technologies and startups can be disruptive but it's really difficult to assess a technology as disruptive until after they have actually had measurable impact on an industry.

So please stop calling yourself or your startup disruptive unless you actually understand what you are saying and specially if your startup is on it's earlier stages or not even launched, otherwise you will only look foolish and subtract validity to your startup/idea/self.

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Allan MacGregor


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