Another rehash of why EPCOT is stuck in the past...

Posted by jwsadmin on May 9, 2016

From a comment I left on this post:“What Happened to the Imagination and Innovation at Epcot?”

(this basically repeats some of what I wrote in "on making memories")

Basically what did the innoventions in is the same thing that killed the studio in Disney-MGM-Holywood: corporate secrecy.

In the grand era of the Worlds Fairs that EPCOT was inspired by, corporations loved to share. They loved to make big announcements of what they had and what they were working on. Generally this was because they’d made such a large investment on it that it would be too hard for anybody else to catch up for years once they saw it, unless they paid the patent rights.

That world ended after the 1982 Worlds Fair in Knoxville. It ceased to exist…just as EPCOT needed it. Right off the bat, EPCOT was stuck in being dependent on a world that didn’t exist anymore.

What changed? Software. Software is, unlike hardware, infinitely malleable. It is also infinitely copyable, whether as stolen bits or as someone smart like me (as a programmer) looking at it and going “I can do that”…and then doing it. It is just too easy to do. Plus it also gets out of date much more quickly, too, as fads and fashions of appearances change as rapidly as performance does with every Moore’s Law generation.

So corporations had to hide their software until it was absolutely on the market, and then it was distributed so quickly that it would be in someone’s hands before a demo of it could ever be put in Communicore or Innoventions. If you didn’t hold that secrecy, a faster competitor could knock off the same thing in a matter of weeks (all the hard thinking was already done for them by the REAL inventor) who could beat them to market and potentially invalidate their patent applications for the product.

Or if you did put out the early prototype on display, the criticism of it could kill the product before it actually hit the market.

This is that same “control the message” that marketing departments have had to demand for 3 decades now…and it is why the studio was removed from DHS.

Directors shoot a LOT of footage that doesn’t make the final film. The animation story team produce a lot of ideas and drawings that don’t even get animated. When the public is allowed to see what may happen, they will produce an opinion of it that may not be what the studio actually wants them to have. Imagine if audiences saw the more bug-like Jimminy Crickets before Ward’s final, perfectly charming design? They may not have gone to the film, worrying about how “ugly” it might be. In the case of regular films, “spoilers” is the big thing, especially under today’s social media instant-leak world.

Thus, the studio lockdown: nobody sees what Disney is working on until it is ready to go, and then the marketing team carefully controls the promotions. Failure to do so can create a flop before it has even started.

And failure to control your product’s release and demos before it is ready can kill a corporation.

So yeah, in Innoventions software is the problem: it is too quickly created, too quickly released (and replaced), too quickly copied, and too quickly criticized, to really be something to show in a building that requires a 3-6 months to refurbish and re-theme…and hardware just doesn’t impress anymore.

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