The Curse of Noitavonni

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Have you heard of the Italian saint, Noitavonni? Perhaps not—but there’s little shame in that, as no church was ever built in his honor, despite the many acolytes who are said to have gone to great lengths to proclaim themselves among Noitavonni’s flock. And should you fail to light up at the mention of him, rest assured you have more than a passing familiarity with his work, whether you know it or not. As the patron saint of technology, the sacrifices allegedly made in his name are legion.   

We hope to have captured the spirit of Noitavonni throughout this issue, with a particular focus on disruptive technologies. (We’ve even borrowed that as the name for our new column, written by members of Altimeter Group.) There are dozens of these technologies, of course, and we couldn’t possibly touch on them all, but the icons here will help guide you through our attempt—and we hope you’ll share with us online any we may have overlooked.

But Noitavonni also knew the essential value of people and processes. From the agents of change to the applications of technology, paradigm shifts are everywhere. And “everywhere” is coming—in the form of geolocation, which may be the technology most on the verge of altering the very fabric of our lives.

A Renaissance man with experience in a variety of fields, Noitavonni was known to favor a counterintuitive approach in embracing the new. Amazingly, the obstacles he regularly overcame—entrenched traditionalism, limited resources, fear of the unknown—remain pitfalls to this day. It may help to recall one of Noitavonni’s key lessons: Always take a moment to look at things differently. Sometimes, even in reverse.  

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