There's a saying about it making a difference whose ox is being gored.
Television network executives are in a tizzy today, the New York Times reports, over a new digital video recorder that can automatically delete commercials from the programs it records.
The device is being offered by Dish Network, a satellite program distributer that the networks had heretofore considered an ally. The technology to skip commercials has long been available, but DVR manufacturers and distributors, wary of potential lawsuits, haven't made it available. The introduction of Dish's "Auto Hop" changes that, and the networks are outraged.
Ted Harbert, the chairman of NBC Broadcasting, calls the new device an insult to the television industry. “Just because technology gives you the ability to do something, does that mean you should?" he says. "Not always."
Obviously, Harbert fails to appreciate one of the basic laws of technological nature: once a technique becomes available, it will be used, inevitably. There's no small irony in this, given that the television networks and their advertisers have long been the beneficiaries of one of the most disruptive technologies in history, one they've never hesitated to exploit to the fullest extent possible.
The lesson: In technology, the Disrupter today will be the Disrupted tomorrow.