Outside the 53,651 bubble

I've been thinking about the 53,651 people who read TechCrunch. What, you missed that whole meme that passed through the tech blogs this past week?

Rick Segal wrote about the meme and said it's the paying customers that matter.

Well, for the past five days I've been hanging out with folks who don't read TechCrunch. Maybe that's my mom's gift to me. Get me outside the Silicon Valley or Puget Sound bubbles.

So, I've been thinking about what it'll take to get these folks to try something new. Hey, the iPod still hasn't gotten here, so don't even ask about podcasting, RSS, or tagging. Interestingly enough, blogging has been heard about here. One older lady who visited my mom saw that I was blogging and she said "oh, blogs are the things that's keeping the media honest."

Heh. The things that get heard here in a small town in middle America.

But, back to the lesson. How do we get things out to these people? Well, for one, we need wide-spread wifi here first. Google hasn't set up a Wifi network here in Livingston. That's a business opportunity. Second, there aren't signs extoling the Internet here. I haven't seen a URL on anything in days. I haven't seen an iPod poster in days. I haven't seen a Fry's in days. It's almost like geeks don't exist. Although there is a killer computer museum in Bozeman (I'll try to visit that this week too).

Thomas Hawk wrote about this issue. He taught people to Flickr in New Orleans.

Oh, damn you Thomas. Now you've made it 53,652. Heheh!

Like I said, how do you cause an avalanche? One snowflake at a time. One snowflake at a time.
:-)

38 thoughts on “Outside the 53,651 bubble

  1. Indus: very good point. I’m using a dial-up speed mobile connection (in the UK), and a lot of the Web 2.0 stuff is almost unusable. This is the point about degrading gracefully – we need a way of signalling what bandwidth and quality of service we’re running at and scaling down the site appropriately.

  2. Indus: very good point. I’m using a dial-up speed mobile connection (in the UK), and a lot of the Web 2.0 stuff is almost unusable. This is the point about degrading gracefully – we need a way of signalling what bandwidth and quality of service we’re running at and scaling down the site appropriately.

  3. Has anyone tried Web2.0 “stuff” from a dial-up connection in India :-0)

    Indus
    Currently standing on the shores outside…

  4. Has anyone tried Web2.0 “stuff” from a dial-up connection in India :-0)

    Indus
    Currently standing on the shores outside…

  5. Awww, thank you, Dave! That’s so sweet of you.

    I think it’s true that tech culture hasn’t yet reached Montanans to the extent it has in more urban regions. There are a variety of reasons — two of the biggest are probably lower wages and lack of high-speed Internet access. (I had to install a satellite dish on my cabin’s roof to get anything better than 21 kbps Internet speeds.)

    However, there’s a reason everyone wants to move to Montana. Life is slower here. And I kind of like it that way.

  6. Awww, thank you, Dave! That’s so sweet of you.

    I think it’s true that tech culture hasn’t yet reached Montanans to the extent it has in more urban regions. There are a variety of reasons — two of the biggest are probably lower wages and lack of high-speed Internet access. (I had to install a satellite dish on my cabin’s roof to get anything better than 21 kbps Internet speeds.)

    However, there’s a reason everyone wants to move to Montana. Life is slower here. And I kind of like it that way.

  7. Greetings Robert! I’m glad that you’re appreciating Montana, although I am saddened by the reason for your visit — I hope the situation is getting better.

    And re: tech and web in Montana — dude, check out the Big Sky Blog — we have SCORES of bloggers in our wonderful state, from all corners and all walks.

    http://bigskyblog.com/index.php?p=199
    For instance, Sarpy Sam is one of our most famous bloggers — he’s a genuine cattle rancher. And some of our more liberal communities (think Missoula) have wonderful, articulate, and creative bloggers like Patia. We have Jewish bloggers, humor bloggers, political bloggers, and community bloggers.

    Now, when I say “scores” of bloggers, remember that our entire state has fewer people than, say, the city of San Antonio.

    If you ever make it up here to Great Falls, let me know — lunch is on me!

  8. Greetings Robert! I’m glad that you’re appreciating Montana, although I am saddened by the reason for your visit — I hope the situation is getting better.

    And re: tech and web in Montana — dude, check out the Big Sky Blog — we have SCORES of bloggers in our wonderful state, from all corners and all walks.

    http://bigskyblog.com/index.php?p=199
    For instance, Sarpy Sam is one of our most famous bloggers — he’s a genuine cattle rancher. And some of our more liberal communities (think Missoula) have wonderful, articulate, and creative bloggers like Patia. We have Jewish bloggers, humor bloggers, political bloggers, and community bloggers.

    Now, when I say “scores” of bloggers, remember that our entire state has fewer people than, say, the city of San Antonio.

    If you ever make it up here to Great Falls, let me know — lunch is on me!

  9. Dmad: funny enough I’ve been asked a lot of questions about Windows since I got here. So, even in a non-geek area there are plenty of technology users. They just aren’t early adopters.

  10. Dmad: funny enough I’ve been asked a lot of questions about Windows since I got here. So, even in a non-geek area there are plenty of technology users. They just aren’t early adopters.

  11. Mr. K, Web 2.0 is a technological leap forward from Web 1.0, but that’s meaningless to the rest of the world out there. On the user side, Web 2.0 is simpler, more accessible and more useful. The average person isn’t going to know which “version” of the web they’re using. They’re just going to gravitate towards the sites that give them more of what they want, and if that’s not Web 2.0 then the web is going in the wrong direction.

  12. Mr. K, Web 2.0 is a technological leap forward from Web 1.0, but that’s meaningless to the rest of the world out there. On the user side, Web 2.0 is simpler, more accessible and more useful. The average person isn’t going to know which “version” of the web they’re using. They’re just going to gravitate towards the sites that give them more of what they want, and if that’s not Web 2.0 then the web is going in the wrong direction.

  13. Scoble, isn’t this what Chris Coulter has been telling you for months, now? Bloggers live in a cocoon. And it takes one of your A-list buddies to finally convince you?

    There’s gotta be an economic explanation for what you are seeing. Surely if the people you are observing had problems that wifi, ipods, bla bla bla will solve for them they would have sought them out. I know it’s something that likely blows your mind, but not everyone wants technology to be a part of their lives. But, if you think that’s not true, someone needs to go in and figure out what aspects of technology that customer base WILL want because apparently the things you are observing are not things they will want.

    This is no different than the issues that have been raised about Vista here. Is Vista giving consumers things they WILL want, or is it being built for the geeks of the world?

    Reminds me of a ‘joke’. “How many Chicago School economists does it take to change a light bulb? None. If the light bulb needed changing the market would have done it”

  14. Scoble, isn’t this what Chris Coulter has been telling you for months, now? Bloggers live in a cocoon. And it takes one of your A-list buddies to finally convince you?

    There’s gotta be an economic explanation for what you are seeing. Surely if the people you are observing had problems that wifi, ipods, bla bla bla will solve for them they would have sought them out. I know it’s something that likely blows your mind, but not everyone wants technology to be a part of their lives. But, if you think that’s not true, someone needs to go in and figure out what aspects of technology that customer base WILL want because apparently the things you are observing are not things they will want.

    This is no different than the issues that have been raised about Vista here. Is Vista giving consumers things they WILL want, or is it being built for the geeks of the world?

    Reminds me of a ‘joke’. “How many Chicago School economists does it take to change a light bulb? None. If the light bulb needed changing the market would have done it”

  15. Bozeman? Reminds me of Zen and the art of Motorcycle maintenance. It plays in other fields as well. I just had a conversation on a gap like this in an academic library environment.

  16. Bozeman? Reminds me of Zen and the art of Motorcycle maintenance. It plays in other fields as well. I just had a conversation on a gap like this in an academic library environment.

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  18. Kudos for observing that the iPod, such an unabashed success hasn’t even made it into general population useage. Even the concept is difficult to explain to the non-initiate. I think we forget the learning curve for some of these Web 2.0 concepts. An iPod only makes sense for someone who has the willingness to convert their entire music collection into digital format on their computer. You’d be surprised how many people don’t even get that concept or want to do it. Likewise, think flickr and digital photos. I know plenty people who have tons of digital pictures but they aren’t organized (tagged) in any meaning other than chronological. I think people could benefit from taking a step back, and realizing we’re on Web 2.0 and many average, mainstream users didn’t get Web 1.0.

  19. Kudos for observing that the iPod, such an unabashed success hasn’t even made it into general population useage. Even the concept is difficult to explain to the non-initiate. I think we forget the learning curve for some of these Web 2.0 concepts. An iPod only makes sense for someone who has the willingness to convert their entire music collection into digital format on their computer. You’d be surprised how many people don’t even get that concept or want to do it. Likewise, think flickr and digital photos. I know plenty people who have tons of digital pictures but they aren’t organized (tagged) in any meaning other than chronological. I think people could benefit from taking a step back, and realizing we’re on Web 2.0 and many average, mainstream users didn’t get Web 1.0.

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  21. You gotta stop by Bozeman. In addition to the museum they have other museums and two killer coffee shops with WiFi. Plus, it’s the initial setting for Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I’ve visted out there twice from Ohio and love it. All the best.

  22. You gotta stop by Bozeman. In addition to the museum they have other museums and two killer coffee shops with WiFi. Plus, it’s the initial setting for Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I’ve visted out there twice from Ohio and love it. All the best.

  23. You do end up in a rut when all your friends & acquaintances are part of a very small minority of America. That is not something one can change easily.

  24. You do end up in a rut when all your friends & acquaintances are part of a very small minority of America. That is not something one can change easily.

  25. We’re all stuck in the early-adopter ghetto and need to be more like them, instead of the other way around.

    It’s time for them to teach us how to enjoy the really valuable things in life !

  26. We’re all stuck in the early-adopter ghetto and need to be more like them, instead of the other way around.

    It’s time for them to teach us how to enjoy the really valuable things in life !

  27. I grew up in Montana (Bozeman, Great Falls) and lived there for 12 years. The rate of tech adoption there varies pretty widely from town to town (there really aren’t any *cities* by our Puget Sound standards there…). For example, you’ll find far more iPods, bloggers, URLS in ads, etc. in towns like Bozeman and Missoula. Why? Well, for one, they are both college towns. Secondly, both towns have seen massive population growth as compared to other towns in Montana. These are the “hot” places to live in that state. Missoula, for all intensive purposes, is now considered part of the Northwest and Bozeman has been attracting small and medium-sized technology-based companies for several years now. MSU has a very strong engineering/CS department, which is a great draw. (I recall during my first year at MSU that Microsoft came on campus and gave a presentation, complete with pizza, toys, and giveaways – it was a huge deal and goes to show the strength of the program – MS came to MONTANA!). Billings is the largest “city” in the state, but that doesn’t equate into it being the most “plugged-in” by any means. While I lived in Montana, it was commonplace to see and know that most everything was about 10 years behind the curve when it came to trends and technology. I believe things are starting to get better now, though. Unfortunately, it may never truly take off, however, because so much of the states’ talent leaves to find good jobs (often in the Seattle area).

    I think the big mistake is to assume these people are stupid and/or aren’t sophisticated merely because they don’t blog or have wifi access. There are towns right here in WA with very much the same kind of population, trust me.

  28. I grew up in Montana (Bozeman, Great Falls) and lived there for 12 years. The rate of tech adoption there varies pretty widely from town to town (there really aren’t any *cities* by our Puget Sound standards there…). For example, you’ll find far more iPods, bloggers, URLS in ads, etc. in towns like Bozeman and Missoula. Why? Well, for one, they are both college towns. Secondly, both towns have seen massive population growth as compared to other towns in Montana. These are the “hot” places to live in that state. Missoula, for all intensive purposes, is now considered part of the Northwest and Bozeman has been attracting small and medium-sized technology-based companies for several years now. MSU has a very strong engineering/CS department, which is a great draw. (I recall during my first year at MSU that Microsoft came on campus and gave a presentation, complete with pizza, toys, and giveaways – it was a huge deal and goes to show the strength of the program – MS came to MONTANA!). Billings is the largest “city” in the state, but that doesn’t equate into it being the most “plugged-in” by any means. While I lived in Montana, it was commonplace to see and know that most everything was about 10 years behind the curve when it came to trends and technology. I believe things are starting to get better now, though. Unfortunately, it may never truly take off, however, because so much of the states’ talent leaves to find good jobs (often in the Seattle area).

    I think the big mistake is to assume these people are stupid and/or aren’t sophisticated merely because they don’t blog or have wifi access. There are towns right here in WA with very much the same kind of population, trust me.

  29. Maybe you don’t want Montana to be Silicon Valley. After all there is beauty in variety.
    Instead of teaching them to blog or flickr maybe we could create a tool for their needs.

    It would be best if blogging or flickring solved their problems though.

  30. Maybe you don’t want Montana to be Silicon Valley. After all there is beauty in variety.
    Instead of teaching them to blog or flickr maybe we could create a tool for their needs.

    It would be best if blogging or flickring solved their problems though.

  31. I wonder if the people who read TechCrunch are the same ones who over value it. After all they read it and all their friends read it so they assume that everyone reads it. They influence each other. I know you are going to say that a lot of people who don’t read TechCrunch are influenced by people who do (i.e. me by you perhaps) but I don’t think this chains out as far as a lot of people think it does. There is a reason that the blogosphere didn’t get Howard Dean elected and it wasn’t all a screaming speech in Iowa.
    At some point you have to reach beyond the people who live on the Internet in the geek ghetto. The Internet has dozens (maybe hundreds) of these ghettos and while they connect at points the flow is not yet as great as we sometimes think.

  32. I wonder if the people who read TechCrunch are the same ones who over value it. After all they read it and all their friends read it so they assume that everyone reads it. They influence each other. I know you are going to say that a lot of people who don’t read TechCrunch are influenced by people who do (i.e. me by you perhaps) but I don’t think this chains out as far as a lot of people think it does. There is a reason that the blogosphere didn’t get Howard Dean elected and it wasn’t all a screaming speech in Iowa.
    At some point you have to reach beyond the people who live on the Internet in the geek ghetto. The Internet has dozens (maybe hundreds) of these ghettos and while they connect at points the flow is not yet as great as we sometimes think.

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