Early adopter angst

Dang, there has been a spate of early adopter angst lately.

Just read Alex Vanelsas to see a good example.

Today Frederick over at the Last Podcast gets into the act, writing “I kept wondering if the gap between early adopters and mainstream users isn’t expanding more and more and what that means for services that cater mostly to early adopters.”

Over the last few days I’ve seen another misconception: that Twitter is only Silicon Valley people talking to themselves. Do a search for “Silicon Valley” on Tweetscan and you’ll see a few of those. That misconception is easy to disprove: just watch Twitter Vision for a few minutes and you’ll see that very few Twitterers are in Silicon Valley.

There ARE huge differences between early adopters and others. I was in Alana Taylor’s Ustream channel the other night and many people there told me they like hanging out there “because people understand what I’m talking about here.”

In other words, when someone says to “Tweet that” you don’t get blank stares, or, worse, derision.

If I get arrogant about the role of early adopters (some people call them influencers, or “passionates”) it’s because I’ve seen they are the ones who drive society. You really think that guy who I saw the other day on the plane using Windows 2000 and an old version of Lotus Notes is driving society? Riiiigggghhhhtttt.

I’ve seen this discussion happen EVERY TIME there’s a new technology. I remember back in 1977 that only nerds could use personal computers. Very few people (not even Steve Jobs or Bill Gates) understood just how big that would become.

I remember the days when email was only used by the nerds who had access to Unix terminals at universities or research labs.

I remember the days when people said “IM would never be used in enterprises.” Today it’s built into Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange. Seriously. They did say that.

I remember the days when the World Wide Web was only for nerds who did physics at places like CERN and weird kids who went to Stanford. I remember people actively betting against the Web. Luckily the guy I worked for, Jim Fawcette, saw its promise early in 1994 and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to build one of the first publisher’s Web sites. That investment is why I’m here today.

Today the angst is onto things like Twitter, FriendFeed, etc. Even older Web 2.0 properties like Flickr haven’t really gone mainstream. Last week we spent some time with Ansel Adams’ son. He had never heard of Flickr. Ansel Adams son!!! That dude should be the first that photo sharing sites pitch, since he’s always talking to press about photography and his company does tons of classes for photographers in Yosemite and other places. Heck, Flickr should figure out how to sponsor the Ansel Adams’ Gallery. But they don’t.

Why not? Because convincing late adopters to change their behavior is VERY hard and VERY expensive. It’s why Amazon doesn’t do TV advertising. Rather they build a product that early adopters, passionate computer geeks, and influencers like.

How does that affect their business performance? Well, compare Best Buy’s price/earnings ratio to that of Amazon’s. According to Google Finance Best Buy’s is 13.91 and Amazon’s is 67.03. I know which one I’d rather have.

Early adopters DO matter. Anyone who says that they don’t needs to go back to business school.

This is why I follow 20,000 Twitterers. I want to study what early adopters are doing and thinking. Twitter is the best place — by far — to do that.

That’s not to say that business people should forget about the late adopters. They are going to be the ones you need to see huge profitability and growth. I guarantee you that most of Ansel Adams’ business is among late adopters now. But then his business has been in Yosemite for 102 years and has one of America’s best-known brands. If you’re building a business today you don’t have those advantages. Your best option is to follow eBay, Amazon, Google, Flickr, Facebook, etc by talking and understanding early adopters first. Why? They are passionate and want to see something new. That guy with the Windows 2000 old Dell laptop? He isn’t looking for anything new. He isn’t going to adopt your newfangled service.

But the people on Twitter and FriendFeed and Facebook and MySpace and LinkedIn and Plaxo? They have already told you they are willing to try new things. Therefore they are probably going to be willing to try your new thing too.

We’ll be talking about this in 20 more years when some newfangled thing comes out, though. Most people have no clue about the role of early adopters, and/or totally misunderstand early adopters and/or even lie about them, hence the “only Silicon Valley people are on Twitter” meme.

While we’re talking about Twitter, Yuvi, the wonderkid in India, did an analysis of my usage of Twitter that’s pretty interesting.

Comments

  1. I think the angst is coming from what seems like a completely insulated reality. The people on Twitter may not ‘geographically’ be from Silicon Valley, but, with some exceptions, they’re all orbiting that world. The problem, I think, is that today’s early adopters seem to think that *everyone* is an early adopter. Computers, IM, email, etc. may have been built in a bubble but they were built, to some degree, with the average consumer in mind. Today, video sites are only working for those with N95s, people are building entire business around just the Twitter community, and no one seems to be even trying to reach the other %99 of the consuming public. I just think such insulation can’t be good for the furtherance of great ideas and the money to fund them.

  2. I think the angst is coming from what seems like a completely insulated reality. The people on Twitter may not ‘geographically’ be from Silicon Valley, but, with some exceptions, they’re all orbiting that world. The problem, I think, is that today’s early adopters seem to think that *everyone* is an early adopter. Computers, IM, email, etc. may have been built in a bubble but they were built, to some degree, with the average consumer in mind. Today, video sites are only working for those with N95s, people are building entire business around just the Twitter community, and no one seems to be even trying to reach the other %99 of the consuming public. I just think such insulation can’t be good for the furtherance of great ideas and the money to fund them.

  3. Per your tweet: “Louis Gray, I wrote this for you “early adopter angst:”
    But I didn’t come up! :-)

    Nice job. Not every service we “early adopters” take to will be a home run, but a lot will, and those that don’t will form the foundations for the next wave. You were more right about Twitter than I was at first, and I was early to FriendFeed, and am glad you’ve taken to it as well. I’m sure we’ll both keep looking for more.

  4. Per your tweet: “Louis Gray, I wrote this for you “early adopter angst:”
    But I didn’t come up! :-)

    Nice job. Not every service we “early adopters” take to will be a home run, but a lot will, and those that don’t will form the foundations for the next wave. You were more right about Twitter than I was at first, and I was early to FriendFeed, and am glad you’ve taken to it as well. I’m sure we’ll both keep looking for more.

  5. Robert,

    There is no doubt that early adopters matter and your post makes a good case for that. I think that the next question is which of the niche explored by early adopters is more likely to go mainstream and are there lessons to be learned from that “selection” process.

    The patterns and lessons might be different for “communications/sharing tools” like digg, twitter and friendfeed because a lot of adopters see those as channels to increase their reach (see latest comments from Mike A. regarding the importance of twitter). Every new service is a battleground where the first mover hope to knock a few audience points from their competitors. Sometimes it is the opposite pattern where transitioning from one tool/channel to the other is a way to get rid of some of the trolls reduce the noise.

    In that sense, the needs of mainstream users are different: they simply want to have a way to connect to people they know or respect, build trust and interact. To them, the multiplication of channels is not necessarily a plus (specially give the current mess related to moving connections around).

    I think that those 2 opposite forces are what create a balance. Anyway that is my theory. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

  6. Robert,

    There is no doubt that early adopters matter and your post makes a good case for that. I think that the next question is which of the niche explored by early adopters is more likely to go mainstream and are there lessons to be learned from that “selection” process.

    The patterns and lessons might be different for “communications/sharing tools” like digg, twitter and friendfeed because a lot of adopters see those as channels to increase their reach (see latest comments from Mike A. regarding the importance of twitter). Every new service is a battleground where the first mover hope to knock a few audience points from their competitors. Sometimes it is the opposite pattern where transitioning from one tool/channel to the other is a way to get rid of some of the trolls reduce the noise.

    In that sense, the needs of mainstream users are different: they simply want to have a way to connect to people they know or respect, build trust and interact. To them, the multiplication of channels is not necessarily a plus (specially give the current mess related to moving connections around).

    I think that those 2 opposite forces are what create a balance. Anyway that is my theory. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

  7. Robert,

    I find this a hugely troubling concept of yours. You’re basically saying that a part of the economy in America/the world can robustly succeed, making high-tech gadget toys for you all to play with and be happy, and Apple, Google, and YOU can all “have a good quarter” — but the rest of us have to be in a recession because we’re not “early adapters”. We’re doomed to stay in the non-integrated digitally-divided world and get harassed on forms because we still have uncool and outdated DSL lines instead of FIOs.

    You’re also making a highly risky proposition here, projecting a notion of profitability in investing in the heavy geeky early-adapter crowd as a business model, forsaking later ordinary users, which further stratifies society and the economy and doesn’t even shore up the tech industry, it seems to me.

    The fact is, investment in keeping the geeks in their tekkie wiki sandbox doesn’t go anywhere in the long-run, as the companies aren’t making profit from actual sale of their widgets to consumers, but just sort of trading marbles among themselves. Or it’s like Bonfire of the Vanies, passing the pie, keeping a crumb. So this company buys out that company. This start-up bootstraps and lives for the day of its final making of a profit — which is not about sales or diverse investment but sell-out to Google or Microsoft. The big tech sandbox of Silicon Valley then just becomes the sweat-equity R&D departments of Google & Microsoft, and not a diversity of companies with actual real-world-tethered business plans.

    I feel the gulf isn’t between nerdy “early adapters” and “everybody else” but even within the early-adapter crowd which in fact contains non-tech people like myself, between those who are tethered, and those who are not tethered. There are a lot more normal people early-adapting than you seem to give us credit for. We find it exasperating that you don’t want to build user participation and feedback for normal and ordinary consumer use right into the early adaptation process, using all the new-fangled social media thingies you always flog to accomplish this very thing!

    Often, technology seems to be kept deliberately complicated and obscure merely to prolong the beta-test love-fest atmosphere and make for continuation of the old boys’ club as long as possible.

    I just don’t get why you all collectively do less of these zillions of start ups with all kinds of wacky names in Web 2.0 and stop scripting ideological “proof of concepts”, and get to work on usability and applicability in real ways that really involve people in regular life and do the heavy-lifting of making it more reliable and usable.

    It’s like it’s just not fun enough for you, and I guess there’s enough of your friends willing to go on paying for the endless summer of beta, and you never have to land back on earth. It’s a puzzle to me why Yahoo or Twitter for that matter don’t just start charging normal subscription rates and make the services work better.

  8. Robert,

    I find this a hugely troubling concept of yours. You’re basically saying that a part of the economy in America/the world can robustly succeed, making high-tech gadget toys for you all to play with and be happy, and Apple, Google, and YOU can all “have a good quarter” — but the rest of us have to be in a recession because we’re not “early adapters”. We’re doomed to stay in the non-integrated digitally-divided world and get harassed on forms because we still have uncool and outdated DSL lines instead of FIOs.

    You’re also making a highly risky proposition here, projecting a notion of profitability in investing in the heavy geeky early-adapter crowd as a business model, forsaking later ordinary users, which further stratifies society and the economy and doesn’t even shore up the tech industry, it seems to me.

    The fact is, investment in keeping the geeks in their tekkie wiki sandbox doesn’t go anywhere in the long-run, as the companies aren’t making profit from actual sale of their widgets to consumers, but just sort of trading marbles among themselves. Or it’s like Bonfire of the Vanies, passing the pie, keeping a crumb. So this company buys out that company. This start-up bootstraps and lives for the day of its final making of a profit — which is not about sales or diverse investment but sell-out to Google or Microsoft. The big tech sandbox of Silicon Valley then just becomes the sweat-equity R&D departments of Google & Microsoft, and not a diversity of companies with actual real-world-tethered business plans.

    I feel the gulf isn’t between nerdy “early adapters” and “everybody else” but even within the early-adapter crowd which in fact contains non-tech people like myself, between those who are tethered, and those who are not tethered. There are a lot more normal people early-adapting than you seem to give us credit for. We find it exasperating that you don’t want to build user participation and feedback for normal and ordinary consumer use right into the early adaptation process, using all the new-fangled social media thingies you always flog to accomplish this very thing!

    Often, technology seems to be kept deliberately complicated and obscure merely to prolong the beta-test love-fest atmosphere and make for continuation of the old boys’ club as long as possible.

    I just don’t get why you all collectively do less of these zillions of start ups with all kinds of wacky names in Web 2.0 and stop scripting ideological “proof of concepts”, and get to work on usability and applicability in real ways that really involve people in regular life and do the heavy-lifting of making it more reliable and usable.

    It’s like it’s just not fun enough for you, and I guess there’s enough of your friends willing to go on paying for the endless summer of beta, and you never have to land back on earth. It’s a puzzle to me why Yahoo or Twitter for that matter don’t just start charging normal subscription rates and make the services work better.

  9. I think that there’s a problem here, and that is the misconception that the only way you can be ‘doing something new’ is by ‘doing something new to do with technology’. When you discount the potential for the guy on the Windows NT with Lotus Notes on the plane to be an ‘influencer of society’, this misconception becomes clear.

    But it is a misconception. Some of the most forward-thinking people I know are technophobes.

  10. I think that there’s a problem here, and that is the misconception that the only way you can be ‘doing something new’ is by ‘doing something new to do with technology’. When you discount the potential for the guy on the Windows NT with Lotus Notes on the plane to be an ‘influencer of society’, this misconception becomes clear.

    But it is a misconception. Some of the most forward-thinking people I know are technophobes.

  11. I first started using twitter just recently. I don’t think I am what you would consider an early adopter. Twitter only became super-useful and addictive for me when I started using twhirl.

    In my mind, twitter has become an essential tool for delivering breaking news and spreading the word about this or that.

    I’ve started following a lot more blogs since joining twitter that I may not have found on my own.

    Great post btw!

  12. I first started using twitter just recently. I don’t think I am what you would consider an early adopter. Twitter only became super-useful and addictive for me when I started using twhirl.

    In my mind, twitter has become an essential tool for delivering breaking news and spreading the word about this or that.

    I’ve started following a lot more blogs since joining twitter that I may not have found on my own.

    Great post btw!

  13. I also REALLY want you and your other geek friends to just STOP this foolish nonsense of doing little Twitter or blog or forums roll-calls and trying to “prove” that “this isn’t all really Silicon Valley”.

    OF COURSE IT’S ALL SILICON VALLEY, ROBERT. You and other top influencers in the Top 100 of Twitter, the A-list bloggers, the conference-circuit keynoters, aren’t exactly from Debuque, IA or Rochester, NY, dude. Come off it. Don’t try to shirk your geographical destiny; embrace it and become more *genuinely* inclusive by really bringing in the geographically disfavoured instead of doing fake roll-calls.

    Because your like-minded geeks sitting in big IT companies or contracting at home in Maine or Nebraska are as Silicon Valley in mind and heart as you are — it’s a distributed culture. So stop pretending that if you have fake geographical actual locational diversity, you have gotten out of the Silicon Valley mindset. You haven’t.

  14. Prokofy it’s because late adopters do get pulled into stuff. It took me two years of constant nagging to convince my dad to use Google. He has the same TV for 25 years, but is about to finally get an HDTV too. Most people need more nagging to try something new out than my dad does. That’s why most of Google’s growth and profitability came four to eight years after I started to use Google.

    So, watch Twitter to go mainstream in about three more years.

  15. I also REALLY want you and your other geek friends to just STOP this foolish nonsense of doing little Twitter or blog or forums roll-calls and trying to “prove” that “this isn’t all really Silicon Valley”.

    OF COURSE IT’S ALL SILICON VALLEY, ROBERT. You and other top influencers in the Top 100 of Twitter, the A-list bloggers, the conference-circuit keynoters, aren’t exactly from Debuque, IA or Rochester, NY, dude. Come off it. Don’t try to shirk your geographical destiny; embrace it and become more *genuinely* inclusive by really bringing in the geographically disfavoured instead of doing fake roll-calls.

    Because your like-minded geeks sitting in big IT companies or contracting at home in Maine or Nebraska are as Silicon Valley in mind and heart as you are — it’s a distributed culture. So stop pretending that if you have fake geographical actual locational diversity, you have gotten out of the Silicon Valley mindset. You haven’t.

  16. Prokofy it’s because late adopters do get pulled into stuff. It took me two years of constant nagging to convince my dad to use Google. He has the same TV for 25 years, but is about to finally get an HDTV too. Most people need more nagging to try something new out than my dad does. That’s why most of Google’s growth and profitability came four to eight years after I started to use Google.

    So, watch Twitter to go mainstream in about three more years.

  17. Even the most successful technology, meme, etc. is still unknown by the vast majority of people on the planet, let alone used/understood.

    We did our Enterprise 2.0 research last quarter, and I was a bit surprised (although not entirely) at how badly RSS (Happy RSS Day), Blogs, and RSS did when we were looking at where people put themselves and their organizations on the Chasm scale.

    See:
    http://www.biztechtalk.com/2008/04/feedback-wanted.html

  18. Even the most successful technology, meme, etc. is still unknown by the vast majority of people on the planet, let alone used/understood.

    We did our Enterprise 2.0 research last quarter, and I was a bit surprised (although not entirely) at how badly RSS (Happy RSS Day), Blogs, and RSS did when we were looking at where people put themselves and their organizations on the Chasm scale.

    See:
    http://www.biztechtalk.com/2008/04/feedback-wanted.html

  19. The gap you are referencing exists and it is getting bigger. I speak with marketing departments at entertainment companies every day, and its very hard to communicate the value of a lot of the tools that are emerging. There is so much brilliant software being developed to meet real business needs, but in a lot of cases the businesses that would benefit the most aren’t sophisticated enough to take the plunge, to understand how the tools could positively impact their businesses and adopt them. It’s going to take time. Or true disruptions that change the balance of power.

    I’m starting to think that true “scaling” technologies plays are going to become more rare, and the open source software as service model is going to gain more dominance as a result of the gap. Its not enough to build a great piece of software. You need to actually build the market via evangelism, selling, consulting, and turnkey implementation.

  20. The gap you are referencing exists and it is getting bigger. I speak with marketing departments at entertainment companies every day, and its very hard to communicate the value of a lot of the tools that are emerging. There is so much brilliant software being developed to meet real business needs, but in a lot of cases the businesses that would benefit the most aren’t sophisticated enough to take the plunge, to understand how the tools could positively impact their businesses and adopt them. It’s going to take time. Or true disruptions that change the balance of power.

    I’m starting to think that true “scaling” technologies plays are going to become more rare, and the open source software as service model is going to gain more dominance as a result of the gap. Its not enough to build a great piece of software. You need to actually build the market via evangelism, selling, consulting, and turnkey implementation.

  21. “That guy with the Windows 2000 old Dell laptop? He isn’t looking for anything new. He isn’t going to adopt your newfangled service.”

    Yes and no. Is he going to go out and pro actively find an sign up for a service like Twitter? No way. At some point in the future is someone he knows and trusts going to push him into giving it a try. Can almost guarantee it. In the process he is going to find that it is far easier to use than he imagined – much like my mother-in-law did recently when we all demanded she join Facebook so we could keep her posted.

    Ideas and services with real widespread application will slowly pass from one person to another. The speed of transmission will be determined by the technologies ease of adoption and use. I don’t have stats to back this up so I may be way off base on this but I think it could be argued that cost was one of the main barriers to mass adoption of cell phones (aside from pure availability of service). Once the cost of devices and services came down enough adoption rates skyrocketed – why? Everyone already knew how to use a phone and understood the benefits it would provide them.

    Early adopters continue to serve as a proving ground for the validity of these new applications’ ability to add value to our lives and their collective feedback create a sort of “best practices” that can be used to hone these technologies in ways that makes them easier to understand by the general population. If an app like Twitter or Ning or Facebook is able to prove it has a rightful place in our lives then it will eventually seep through our society’s complex web of relationships and into the lives of “normal people.”

  22. Louis you are seeping through this entire post. I don’t even need to mention you. It’s sorta like when Steve Gillmor doesn’t need to link to you for his audience to find you (thank you Google!)

    >>Not every service we “early adopters” take to will be a home run, but a lot will, and those that don’t will form the foundations for the next wave.

    I can’t name a service that didn’t get popular with either early adopters or celebrities first, before going mainstream. Can anyone?

  23. “That guy with the Windows 2000 old Dell laptop? He isn’t looking for anything new. He isn’t going to adopt your newfangled service.”

    Yes and no. Is he going to go out and pro actively find an sign up for a service like Twitter? No way. At some point in the future is someone he knows and trusts going to push him into giving it a try. Can almost guarantee it. In the process he is going to find that it is far easier to use than he imagined – much like my mother-in-law did recently when we all demanded she join Facebook so we could keep her posted.

    Ideas and services with real widespread application will slowly pass from one person to another. The speed of transmission will be determined by the technologies ease of adoption and use. I don’t have stats to back this up so I may be way off base on this but I think it could be argued that cost was one of the main barriers to mass adoption of cell phones (aside from pure availability of service). Once the cost of devices and services came down enough adoption rates skyrocketed – why? Everyone already knew how to use a phone and understood the benefits it would provide them.

    Early adopters continue to serve as a proving ground for the validity of these new applications’ ability to add value to our lives and their collective feedback create a sort of “best practices” that can be used to hone these technologies in ways that makes them easier to understand by the general population. If an app like Twitter or Ning or Facebook is able to prove it has a rightful place in our lives then it will eventually seep through our society’s complex web of relationships and into the lives of “normal people.”

  24. Louis you are seeping through this entire post. I don’t even need to mention you. It’s sorta like when Steve Gillmor doesn’t need to link to you for his audience to find you (thank you Google!)

    >>Not every service we “early adopters” take to will be a home run, but a lot will, and those that don’t will form the foundations for the next wave.

    I can’t name a service that didn’t get popular with either early adopters or celebrities first, before going mainstream. Can anyone?

  25. And you know, Robert, I’ve made the point to you 10 times on Twitter or your Qik-TV shows or in Second Life, and I’ve never heard a “Yes, I realize that”:

    Nokia 95s cost $700 US. Then a two-year phone contract. They require a computer that is higher end than a Gateway from Best Buy with not only the right hook-ups and high-speed lines, memory and graphic cards. Maintaining the television-station-in-your pocket that you have is enormously cheaper than running a 3-man camera crew for an old media TV station, but it’s still beyond the pockets and even technical capacity of the average person.

    More to the point, when you reduce the cost, and when you convince YouTube or other free sites to allow live streaming, and it all gets easier, the attention economy problem kicks in, and you have to figure out how people will get noticed in the gadzillion channels that will spring up.

    Who will be the curators, and how will they do it?

  26. And you know, Robert, I’ve made the point to you 10 times on Twitter or your Qik-TV shows or in Second Life, and I’ve never heard a “Yes, I realize that”:

    Nokia 95s cost $700 US. Then a two-year phone contract. They require a computer that is higher end than a Gateway from Best Buy with not only the right hook-ups and high-speed lines, memory and graphic cards. Maintaining the television-station-in-your pocket that you have is enormously cheaper than running a 3-man camera crew for an old media TV station, but it’s still beyond the pockets and even technical capacity of the average person.

    More to the point, when you reduce the cost, and when you convince YouTube or other free sites to allow live streaming, and it all gets easier, the attention economy problem kicks in, and you have to figure out how people will get noticed in the gadzillion channels that will spring up.

    Who will be the curators, and how will they do it?

  27. >I can’t name a service that didn’t get popular with either early adopters or celebrities first, before going mainstream. Can anyone?

    How about Polaroid cameras?

  28. Dan: and, if you look at it the right way, everyone who owns a computer is still an early adopter. Only 1/6th of the world’s population has one.

    aureliusmaximus: exactly. Plus, businesses that get early adopters to tell other people about them (er, Google, Amazon, eBay, etc) are hugely profitable and outpace ones that need to use advertising to get adoption (BestBuy, etc).

  29. >I can’t name a service that didn’t get popular with either early adopters or celebrities first, before going mainstream. Can anyone?

    How about Polaroid cameras?

  30. Dan: and, if you look at it the right way, everyone who owns a computer is still an early adopter. Only 1/6th of the world’s population has one.

    aureliusmaximus: exactly. Plus, businesses that get early adopters to tell other people about them (er, Google, Amazon, eBay, etc) are hugely profitable and outpace ones that need to use advertising to get adoption (BestBuy, etc).

  31. Hey! That guy on in seat 13A is my client! It’s easy to get frustrated by the slow adoption of 2.0 tools in large business, but trust me, this late-arrival (clue) train is pulling up to the station.

    I am giving 2.0 tutorials to our F500/G2000 clients on a gamut of 2.0 tools, including Twitter. The sign-up response and reaction has been fantastic so far. Clients are truly excited when they see what is possible.

    I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “early adopters drive society,” but I do know that those of us on the front lines of the so-called 2.0 revolution have two hurdles to overcome: the first is basic awareness, the second is culture shock. Both have nothing to do with the technology itself or the silicon valley echo chamber.

  32. Hey! That guy on in seat 13A is my client! It’s easy to get frustrated by the slow adoption of 2.0 tools in large business, but trust me, this late-arrival (clue) train is pulling up to the station.

    I am giving 2.0 tutorials to our F500/G2000 clients on a gamut of 2.0 tools, including Twitter. The sign-up response and reaction has been fantastic so far. Clients are truly excited when they see what is possible.

    I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “early adopters drive society,” but I do know that those of us on the front lines of the so-called 2.0 revolution have two hurdles to overcome: the first is basic awareness, the second is culture shock. Both have nothing to do with the technology itself or the silicon valley echo chamber.

  33. >>it’s still beyond the pockets and even technical capacity of the average person

    Yes, I realize that. But then, so was the original Apple II, which, ifyou adjusted the $5,000 1977 cost to today’s dollars would come out to something above $10,000. Yet my dad thought it was so important that he bought one for our family. I am thankful every day that he did.

    I look at the cell phones that my son’s classmates use and many are several hundred dollars and have video capabilities.

    Nokia N95’s are down to $500. Most people need a cell phone anyway. It’s the #1 selling phone in the world. TONS of people in Europe and Israel had them, and not just geeks, either.

  34. >In that sense, the needs of mainstream users are different: they simply want to have a way to connect to people they know or respect, build trust and interact. To them, the multiplication of channels is not necessarily a plus (specially give the current mess related to moving connections around).

    Don’t speak on behalf of people you haven’t polled. Ordinary people are the *reason* for the multiplication of channels, and they don’t perceive any “mess” in “needing to” move their friends’ lists around — that’s a geek-inspired concoction that is really about trying to make services interoperable for widgets, not addressing authentic consumer demand (I really don’t mind making a new name and password on 10 different websites if it means my activity on each of those services isn’t going to be scraped, swiped, manipulated, and exploited.)

    Edwin, here’s the really big problem with Twitter: the A-listers like Arrington trying to control it, and bend it to their needs and wants alone, and not keeping it an open system.

    Arrington has been furious about blocking people whose expression he doesn’t like, even other A-list bloggers from his own Silicon Valley crowd. Gillmore is busy trying to lobby the Twitter devs to put in commands to take out of his vanity track any names he doesn’t like. There is constant nerdy MMORPGy pushing and prodding to “behave” in certain geeky accepted ways, like Scoble even telling people they are “using Twitter the wrong way” or “don’t spam”.

  35. >>it’s still beyond the pockets and even technical capacity of the average person

    Yes, I realize that. But then, so was the original Apple II, which, ifyou adjusted the $5,000 1977 cost to today’s dollars would come out to something above $10,000. Yet my dad thought it was so important that he bought one for our family. I am thankful every day that he did.

    I look at the cell phones that my son’s classmates use and many are several hundred dollars and have video capabilities.

    Nokia N95’s are down to $500. Most people need a cell phone anyway. It’s the #1 selling phone in the world. TONS of people in Europe and Israel had them, and not just geeks, either.

  36. >In that sense, the needs of mainstream users are different: they simply want to have a way to connect to people they know or respect, build trust and interact. To them, the multiplication of channels is not necessarily a plus (specially give the current mess related to moving connections around).

    Don’t speak on behalf of people you haven’t polled. Ordinary people are the *reason* for the multiplication of channels, and they don’t perceive any “mess” in “needing to” move their friends’ lists around — that’s a geek-inspired concoction that is really about trying to make services interoperable for widgets, not addressing authentic consumer demand (I really don’t mind making a new name and password on 10 different websites if it means my activity on each of those services isn’t going to be scraped, swiped, manipulated, and exploited.)

    Edwin, here’s the really big problem with Twitter: the A-listers like Arrington trying to control it, and bend it to their needs and wants alone, and not keeping it an open system.

    Arrington has been furious about blocking people whose expression he doesn’t like, even other A-list bloggers from his own Silicon Valley crowd. Gillmore is busy trying to lobby the Twitter devs to put in commands to take out of his vanity track any names he doesn’t like. There is constant nerdy MMORPGy pushing and prodding to “behave” in certain geeky accepted ways, like Scoble even telling people they are “using Twitter the wrong way” or “don’t spam”.

  37. Robert: well the reason I *asked the question* was to *learn something*. I figured there had to be early adapters for Polaroids, but knew nothing about it.

    Soooooo the next question is why didn’t Ansel Adam’s son get offered a Flickr account or a free whatever camera to have a website like yourself, or whatever it takes?!

  38. Robert: well the reason I *asked the question* was to *learn something*. I figured there had to be early adapters for Polaroids, but knew nothing about it.

    Soooooo the next question is why didn’t Ansel Adam’s son get offered a Flickr account or a free whatever camera to have a website like yourself, or whatever it takes?!

  39. The point is being missed.(this reprinted from FF, ironically)Early Adopters and Beta apps are just the blueprint or Outline for the eventual product. Take RSS for example. It doesn’t matter what you use to harness it as long as you use it to be more productive. Really it looks like everyone fussing over their favorite tree and which tree is better or will last when what counts is the FOREST the trees are in…

  40. The point is being missed.(this reprinted from FF, ironically)Early Adopters and Beta apps are just the blueprint or Outline for the eventual product. Take RSS for example. It doesn’t matter what you use to harness it as long as you use it to be more productive. Really it looks like everyone fussing over their favorite tree and which tree is better or will last when what counts is the FOREST the trees are in…

  41. I had my first modem in 1982 (300bps for the Commodore 64!). I’m guessing this gives me some early adopter status. I was using Usenet discussion groups in the 1980s and had my first IP connection to the Internet in 1993. Scoble is right, early adopters DO matter. Louis Gray is wrong: a lot of these products will not be home runs. Very few will even be singles or doubles. The path of the early adopter involves trying out a lot of stuff that doesn’t last. Ah, the OS/2 days ;)

    Will Twitter functionality be available 10 years from now? Absolutely. But all the Twitter clients? No. But who cares — the early adopter moves on to the “next thing”, right Mr. Scoble?

    I also think it’s important to separate technologies from products. RSS for example is a home run, even if from an end user perspective most of the time people (“the masses”) interact with it they have no idea it’s RSS. While I don’t think a lot of the RSS products and services around will last, RSS will.

  42. I had my first modem in 1982 (300bps for the Commodore 64!). I’m guessing this gives me some early adopter status. I was using Usenet discussion groups in the 1980s and had my first IP connection to the Internet in 1993. Scoble is right, early adopters DO matter. Louis Gray is wrong: a lot of these products will not be home runs. Very few will even be singles or doubles. The path of the early adopter involves trying out a lot of stuff that doesn’t last. Ah, the OS/2 days ;)

    Will Twitter functionality be available 10 years from now? Absolutely. But all the Twitter clients? No. But who cares — the early adopter moves on to the “next thing”, right Mr. Scoble?

    I also think it’s important to separate technologies from products. RSS for example is a home run, even if from an end user perspective most of the time people (“the masses”) interact with it they have no idea it’s RSS. While I don’t think a lot of the RSS products and services around will last, RSS will.

  43. Robert, Europe, Central Asia, Israel — these are all countries with government investment programs that made a point of establishing broadband and mobile as a vital national need. The U.S. doesn’t do that, as you know, and doesn’t have as heavy a government sector in communications — and that’s a good thing, frankly.

    I’m glad your son and his classmates have cell phones worth hundreds of dollars. Mine don’t because we’re in the rest of the country where people aren’t as rich as you are in Silicon Valley. This isn’t to cry “poor” — we’re very happy as we are — but it is just to give you a reality check. I have a $25 Virgin Mobile passed between me and my daughter. Only a few of her friends have anything more expensive. None of them have video capacity. My son’s school doesn’t even allow kids to bring in cell phones to cut down on drug-trafficking and other crimes — they see them on the X-ray searches at the door where they are screening for weapons and take them out.

    Sure, more and more people have mobiles, or have Blackberries. You can see them stalled on the street, stalled and thumbing. But that’s because they work for big companies or the government which can pay for their tech.

  44. Robert, Europe, Central Asia, Israel — these are all countries with government investment programs that made a point of establishing broadband and mobile as a vital national need. The U.S. doesn’t do that, as you know, and doesn’t have as heavy a government sector in communications — and that’s a good thing, frankly.

    I’m glad your son and his classmates have cell phones worth hundreds of dollars. Mine don’t because we’re in the rest of the country where people aren’t as rich as you are in Silicon Valley. This isn’t to cry “poor” — we’re very happy as we are — but it is just to give you a reality check. I have a $25 Virgin Mobile passed between me and my daughter. Only a few of her friends have anything more expensive. None of them have video capacity. My son’s school doesn’t even allow kids to bring in cell phones to cut down on drug-trafficking and other crimes — they see them on the X-ray searches at the door where they are screening for weapons and take them out.

    Sure, more and more people have mobiles, or have Blackberries. You can see them stalled on the street, stalled and thumbing. But that’s because they work for big companies or the government which can pay for their tech.

  45. Whenever I need a reality check, I look to the technology that my mum uses. Google took a couple of years to be my mum’s search engine of choice and that only happened because I rebuilt her PC and set it as the homepage. She’s used flickr but its too complicated at the moment. Her new-fangled digital camera might help.

    Twitter is certainly easy enough for her to use but its a difficult sell – you have to use Twitter to understand it. My mum is not an experimenter online.

    College kids today prefer IM to email, they’ll be the ones to bring Twitter into the mainstream but it will take a couple of years.

  46. Whenever I need a reality check, I look to the technology that my mum uses. Google took a couple of years to be my mum’s search engine of choice and that only happened because I rebuilt her PC and set it as the homepage. She’s used flickr but its too complicated at the moment. Her new-fangled digital camera might help.

    Twitter is certainly easy enough for her to use but its a difficult sell – you have to use Twitter to understand it. My mum is not an experimenter online.

    College kids today prefer IM to email, they’ll be the ones to bring Twitter into the mainstream but it will take a couple of years.

  47. Have to disagree with you there Prokofy. Cell phones have become the new Air Jordans. They may not have universal adoption but its hard to argue against the fact that Americans at large have prioritized having a function-rich handset over other financial considerations.

  48. Robert,

    You may find this impossible to believe, but many people are actually still like your dad. I don’t mean just my 75 year old relatives just turning on the Internet for the first time. I mean my 20-something customers from all over America in Second Life, who have no idea how to use Google. I’m not kidding. They go to bookmarked sites that other people set up, they don’t really know how to do a search coherently; they’ve never heard of closed quotes. Using the search in SL where they are motivated, they have trouble understanding why the results they get don’t have sentences that all begin or show visibly that key word. I’m telling you, nothing is as penetrated to the roots as you imagine.

    Rather than nagging and trying to pull people into things, you have to figure what it is that they need to do that this tech in fact will really help them to do. How will it really enhance their life and add to what they already do? There just isn’t enough willingness to listen to that, and hear what it is people say they want.

    The geek early adapter clinging problem is what makes tech so awful, Robert. We wouldn’t have email as stupid, cluttery, and useless as it is now if it weren’t for geekitude and perfectionism on making weird folders and trees and commands and actions that mirror the way the innards of a computer work, instead of enabling the way people think about communications.

    They slow down progress. If the early adapters could have been pushed aside earlier in the process, we could have had email that just worked better and saved better and didn’t become the monster it has, not only cluttering servers and making people feel bankrupt but emotionally disturbing many offices and projects with disembodied angry or tendentious communications. Some day historians will look back on the “email” period as a really, really strange period of odd communications that people got sold on and hooked on because techs thought their machines’ signalling systems were just the perfect thing to graft on to human interactions.

    I will never forget my first email. We had a file sharing line on the old Hayes Smartcom in the 80s. We figured out that the address box to send the file could also contain brief messages to people, jokes, instructions for follow-ups, etc. We got side-tracked on that for awhile in confusion and idiocy and then finally figured out picking up the phone worked lots better, as did faxes. Then we got sidetracked again.

    Here we all are.

  49. Have to disagree with you there Prokofy. Cell phones have become the new Air Jordans. They may not have universal adoption but its hard to argue against the fact that Americans at large have prioritized having a function-rich handset over other financial considerations.

  50. Robert,

    You may find this impossible to believe, but many people are actually still like your dad. I don’t mean just my 75 year old relatives just turning on the Internet for the first time. I mean my 20-something customers from all over America in Second Life, who have no idea how to use Google. I’m not kidding. They go to bookmarked sites that other people set up, they don’t really know how to do a search coherently; they’ve never heard of closed quotes. Using the search in SL where they are motivated, they have trouble understanding why the results they get don’t have sentences that all begin or show visibly that key word. I’m telling you, nothing is as penetrated to the roots as you imagine.

    Rather than nagging and trying to pull people into things, you have to figure what it is that they need to do that this tech in fact will really help them to do. How will it really enhance their life and add to what they already do? There just isn’t enough willingness to listen to that, and hear what it is people say they want.

    The geek early adapter clinging problem is what makes tech so awful, Robert. We wouldn’t have email as stupid, cluttery, and useless as it is now if it weren’t for geekitude and perfectionism on making weird folders and trees and commands and actions that mirror the way the innards of a computer work, instead of enabling the way people think about communications.

    They slow down progress. If the early adapters could have been pushed aside earlier in the process, we could have had email that just worked better and saved better and didn’t become the monster it has, not only cluttering servers and making people feel bankrupt but emotionally disturbing many offices and projects with disembodied angry or tendentious communications. Some day historians will look back on the “email” period as a really, really strange period of odd communications that people got sold on and hooked on because techs thought their machines’ signalling systems were just the perfect thing to graft on to human interactions.

    I will never forget my first email. We had a file sharing line on the old Hayes Smartcom in the 80s. We figured out that the address box to send the file could also contain brief messages to people, jokes, instructions for follow-ups, etc. We got side-tracked on that for awhile in confusion and idiocy and then finally figured out picking up the phone worked lots better, as did faxes. Then we got sidetracked again.

    Here we all are.

  51. Your points are interesting, but…

    “…because I’ve seen they are the ones who drive society.”

    Early adopters do not drive society, they drive a segment of *consumption* within society. The consumption of technology-related products and services is primarily a sector of the economy which then arguably impacts cultural behavior, and ultimately society. Let’s not be so self-aggrandizing that we believe ourselves more relevant or influential than the public, or even of the agricultural sectors as each relates to “driving society”.

    If your belief held true, wouldn’t we be voting over the Internet in November? Everyone but the early adopters are just plain wrong about how to do things “right”? Hardly. Technology is a way, but not always the defining way. Predictions that Twitter will become mainstream are just that – predictions made by those who seek to perpetuate the economies in which they operate in order to enable a new behavior that might or might not be truly valuable. The proof in the pudding is…

    Also, I think it is important to note that technology, and especially Internet technology, is not necessarily unifying, which is perhaps an important underlying characteristic of any society. As Putnam reveals in great detail in “Bowling Alone”, we’ve “become increasingly disconnected from one another and how social structures – whether they be the PTA, church, or political parties – have disintegrated.” As we “friend” more and more strangers, flame strangers in forums, watch live events from afar, and shop from home we are hardly doing anything even close to creating and supporting “societies”. Disconnected digital community-speak, perhaps, but there are significant – and perhaps even negative implications to – the distinctions. The adoption of technology, early or not, should not be perpetuated merely for the sake of the notoriety/wealth it brings, or for what it might someday become, for we do so in lieu of other choices and behaviors that could, in the end, truly “drive society” in more positive, human-enabled directions.

  52. Your points are interesting, but…

    “…because I’ve seen they are the ones who drive society.”

    Early adopters do not drive society, they drive a segment of *consumption* within society. The consumption of technology-related products and services is primarily a sector of the economy which then arguably impacts cultural behavior, and ultimately society. Let’s not be so self-aggrandizing that we believe ourselves more relevant or influential than the public, or even of the agricultural sectors as each relates to “driving society”.

    If your belief held true, wouldn’t we be voting over the Internet in November? Everyone but the early adopters are just plain wrong about how to do things “right”? Hardly. Technology is a way, but not always the defining way. Predictions that Twitter will become mainstream are just that – predictions made by those who seek to perpetuate the economies in which they operate in order to enable a new behavior that might or might not be truly valuable. The proof in the pudding is…

    Also, I think it is important to note that technology, and especially Internet technology, is not necessarily unifying, which is perhaps an important underlying characteristic of any society. As Putnam reveals in great detail in “Bowling Alone”, we’ve “become increasingly disconnected from one another and how social structures – whether they be the PTA, church, or political parties – have disintegrated.” As we “friend” more and more strangers, flame strangers in forums, watch live events from afar, and shop from home we are hardly doing anything even close to creating and supporting “societies”. Disconnected digital community-speak, perhaps, but there are significant – and perhaps even negative implications to – the distinctions. The adoption of technology, early or not, should not be perpetuated merely for the sake of the notoriety/wealth it brings, or for what it might someday become, for we do so in lieu of other choices and behaviors that could, in the end, truly “drive society” in more positive, human-enabled directions.

  53. >aureliusmaximus this perception very much varies according to the following factors:

    o geographical location
    o social sector
    o income and class
    o age

    Sure, people put a premium on cell phones these days. I see even very poor people with cell phones who don’t have jobs and are paying for their chat before medical care. But the point is, they are not carrying $700 Nokias with video capacity, they have Virgin Mobile.

  54. >aureliusmaximus this perception very much varies according to the following factors:

    o geographical location
    o social sector
    o income and class
    o age

    Sure, people put a premium on cell phones these days. I see even very poor people with cell phones who don’t have jobs and are paying for their chat before medical care. But the point is, they are not carrying $700 Nokias with video capacity, they have Virgin Mobile.

  55. Robert, good reply. I didn’t write the post with angst in mind ;-) What interests me is that so few services ever make it out into the world beyond the early adaptors. The article was more an observation that too many of these services are trapped within the early adopter scene, never to get out of it. Every service needs early adopters to mature and become mainstream. But few actually do. Too many follow the path of hoping someone buys the company once it shows it can hook up early adaptors. And that, in my opinion, isn’t a very good business model. Getting it mainstream is much harder (also more profitable in the end).

  56. twitter vision does not show every tweet. Not even close. Its not possible for that site to keep up. Bad reference.

  57. Robert, good reply. I didn’t write the post with angst in mind ;-) What interests me is that so few services ever make it out into the world beyond the early adaptors. The article was more an observation that too many of these services are trapped within the early adopter scene, never to get out of it. Every service needs early adopters to mature and become mainstream. But few actually do. Too many follow the path of hoping someone buys the company once it shows it can hook up early adaptors. And that, in my opinion, isn’t a very good business model. Getting it mainstream is much harder (also more profitable in the end).

  58. twitter vision does not show every tweet. Not even close. Its not possible for that site to keep up. Bad reference.

  59. I agree with R. Seidman, most of the products won’t last or be around but some of the technologies will and they’ll morph so the mainstream finds them useful and adjusts. The big limiting factor is that humans and time don’t scale. There’s too much that takes too much time and most don’t have enough.
    The early adopter set lives/breathes these new technologies and their livelihood depends on keeping up with them therefore it’s not necessarily a time-sink. The “normal” of the world don’t have that incentive or the time. It better be damn useful to a wide range or it won’t get adopted and even if it is, it takes almost forever for it to become mainstream. 10-20 years for a lot of it, even in internet time.

  60. I agree with R. Seidman, most of the products won’t last or be around but some of the technologies will and they’ll morph so the mainstream finds them useful and adjusts. The big limiting factor is that humans and time don’t scale. There’s too much that takes too much time and most don’t have enough.
    The early adopter set lives/breathes these new technologies and their livelihood depends on keeping up with them therefore it’s not necessarily a time-sink. The “normal” of the world don’t have that incentive or the time. It better be damn useful to a wide range or it won’t get adopted and even if it is, it takes almost forever for it to become mainstream. 10-20 years for a lot of it, even in internet time.

  61. Andymurd,

    My kids and their friends (teenagers) look at Twitter with a big yawn. They have AIM on the computers and they tend to use Meebo more than anything because it’s one page with all the popular applications on it to multi-tax. On mobile phones, email or AIM is better. They also use Sony Mylos everywhere and it seems like email/AIM/Yahoo Messenger work better for them, maybe because YMs have all these avatar pictures to dress up, sounds, clips, little games, etc. you can do on them now, and Twitter is pretty stark stuff, no games. They are “done” with Facebook now too.

    You would think the natural flocking tendency of teens, their communications rapidly in group and their peer-seeking behaviour and all the rest of it would mean they’d naturally come right over to Twitter. But I don’t see that happening. And I think the reason is simple: teenagers like to talk privately with close friends and don’t always speak publicly in a big group, or at least have two very different styles of communication between public/private and they may not get the switching capacity they need on Twitter because DMs are clunky.

    BTW, I haven’t found a single person in my life who has even heard of Twitter, even with it being on CNN the other day.

    For the first time today I heard someone at the UN mention a reference about Second Life and nod knowledgeably, but that’s only because MacArthur Foundation sponsored the International Justice Center there and they grasped that it was a 3-D Internet application, a kind of place.

    I had a call from a newspaper in a small town in upstate NY this morning to interview me and it took me about 45 minutes to get across the idea of Second Life, virtuality, the Internet, servers where you rent server space called sims, etc. I think part of the problem was that the reporter and her editor (who was really just getting started looking at “new media” and “Web 2.0″) hadn’t really been exposed to a lot of information and chatter about what the Internet itself is.

  62. Andymurd,

    My kids and their friends (teenagers) look at Twitter with a big yawn. They have AIM on the computers and they tend to use Meebo more than anything because it’s one page with all the popular applications on it to multi-tax. On mobile phones, email or AIM is better. They also use Sony Mylos everywhere and it seems like email/AIM/Yahoo Messenger work better for them, maybe because YMs have all these avatar pictures to dress up, sounds, clips, little games, etc. you can do on them now, and Twitter is pretty stark stuff, no games. They are “done” with Facebook now too.

    You would think the natural flocking tendency of teens, their communications rapidly in group and their peer-seeking behaviour and all the rest of it would mean they’d naturally come right over to Twitter. But I don’t see that happening. And I think the reason is simple: teenagers like to talk privately with close friends and don’t always speak publicly in a big group, or at least have two very different styles of communication between public/private and they may not get the switching capacity they need on Twitter because DMs are clunky.

    BTW, I haven’t found a single person in my life who has even heard of Twitter, even with it being on CNN the other day.

    For the first time today I heard someone at the UN mention a reference about Second Life and nod knowledgeably, but that’s only because MacArthur Foundation sponsored the International Justice Center there and they grasped that it was a 3-D Internet application, a kind of place.

    I had a call from a newspaper in a small town in upstate NY this morning to interview me and it took me about 45 minutes to get across the idea of Second Life, virtuality, the Internet, servers where you rent server space called sims, etc. I think part of the problem was that the reporter and her editor (who was really just getting started looking at “new media” and “Web 2.0″) hadn’t really been exposed to a lot of information and chatter about what the Internet itself is.

  63. Casey: I should have written “the drive change in society.” I guarantee you that the ones driving change in politics are not the people who are happy doing things the way they’ve always been done, but those who are looking for a new way to do it.

  64. Casey: I should have written “the drive change in society.” I guarantee you that the ones driving change in politics are not the people who are happy doing things the way they’ve always been done, but those who are looking for a new way to do it.

  65. Robert,
    What you’re saying about angst between early adopters v. later adopters applies beyond tech and really applies across almost any industry. No where is this more prevalent than in public education where many teachers are slow to come to the realization that emerging technologies have educational value and that those who are pushing technology integration are not doing it simply because it’s the flavor of the month. Those teacher who are not able or willing to adapt to or adopt new communication and new learning environments do so at the risk of producing students ill-equipped for the marketplace.

    As for the misconception that Twitter is only used by Silicon Valley, you couldn’t be more right in your statements that it is a misconception. In my list of Twitter followers and followings yourself, Arrington, and Cashmore may be the only ones not involved in public education.

    Richard Byrne
    http://freetech4teachers.blogspot.com

  66. Robert,
    What you’re saying about angst between early adopters v. later adopters applies beyond tech and really applies across almost any industry. No where is this more prevalent than in public education where many teachers are slow to come to the realization that emerging technologies have educational value and that those who are pushing technology integration are not doing it simply because it’s the flavor of the month. Those teacher who are not able or willing to adapt to or adopt new communication and new learning environments do so at the risk of producing students ill-equipped for the marketplace.

    As for the misconception that Twitter is only used by Silicon Valley, you couldn’t be more right in your statements that it is a misconception. In my list of Twitter followers and followings yourself, Arrington, and Cashmore may be the only ones not involved in public education.

    Richard Byrne
    http://freetech4teachers.blogspot.com

  67. Prokofy: in advertising we learned that people needed to see an ad 13 times before they would even register that they had seen it. That doesn’t surprise me. I’m still getting questions, even in Silly Valley, like “what is a blog?” Even though the mainstream newspapers and radio stations here in Silly Valley have blogs. Blogs are 10 years old. Twitter is, what, two?

    Like you said, there’s plenty of people who have no clue how to use Google, even though that’s a 10-year-old-multi-billion-dollar-business.

  68. Prokofy: in advertising we learned that people needed to see an ad 13 times before they would even register that they had seen it. That doesn’t surprise me. I’m still getting questions, even in Silly Valley, like “what is a blog?” Even though the mainstream newspapers and radio stations here in Silly Valley have blogs. Blogs are 10 years old. Twitter is, what, two?

    Like you said, there’s plenty of people who have no clue how to use Google, even though that’s a 10-year-old-multi-billion-dollar-business.

  69. Solacetech,

    I hear what you are saying about RSS and productivity, and I have to say I’m perplexed.

    I’d like to be able to prove that RSS and reading all these blogs and whatnot in a reader is somehow boosting productivity.

    But I don’t think it is. It’s making my intellectual life richer. It’s enabling deeper communications with strangers who are “friends” on the Internet. But I really don’t sit around with real-life friends and discuss all the rich content of our RSS feeds. I wonder why that is?

    Already, I’m RSS feed bankrupt, unable to read the feeds, guilty about signing up for more I can’t read, chastened that I can’t read as many as Scoble, and suspecting that there’s a lot of redundancy. I don’t need RSS feeds, really, and I feel less and less need for them because I just go to the bookmarked websites when I feel like it.

    Is there a reason to change?

  70. Solacetech,

    I hear what you are saying about RSS and productivity, and I have to say I’m perplexed.

    I’d like to be able to prove that RSS and reading all these blogs and whatnot in a reader is somehow boosting productivity.

    But I don’t think it is. It’s making my intellectual life richer. It’s enabling deeper communications with strangers who are “friends” on the Internet. But I really don’t sit around with real-life friends and discuss all the rich content of our RSS feeds. I wonder why that is?

    Already, I’m RSS feed bankrupt, unable to read the feeds, guilty about signing up for more I can’t read, chastened that I can’t read as many as Scoble, and suspecting that there’s a lot of redundancy. I don’t need RSS feeds, really, and I feel less and less need for them because I just go to the bookmarked websites when I feel like it.

    Is there a reason to change?

  71. >I’m starting to think that true “scaling” technologies plays are going to become more rare, and the open source software as service model is going to gain more dominance as a result of the gap.

    This concept posits that geeks can keep selling the stone-soup idea that everything should be copied and made free through voluntary gifting and free labour, and then only monetarized by essentially obfuscating it and making it hard to use, so that users need to pay consulting fees and maintenance fees to use it. Not so “open” then, is it?

    No thanks. I’d rather that the obfuscation occur at the level of the software itself by a proprietary company, and then that I as a consumer buy it as a package, including a geek customer help line. I’m cool with that.

  72. >I’m starting to think that true “scaling” technologies plays are going to become more rare, and the open source software as service model is going to gain more dominance as a result of the gap.

    This concept posits that geeks can keep selling the stone-soup idea that everything should be copied and made free through voluntary gifting and free labour, and then only monetarized by essentially obfuscating it and making it hard to use, so that users need to pay consulting fees and maintenance fees to use it. Not so “open” then, is it?

    No thanks. I’d rather that the obfuscation occur at the level of the software itself by a proprietary company, and then that I as a consumer buy it as a package, including a geek customer help line. I’m cool with that.

  73. Robert, the New York Sun, one of two widely-read dailies in NY, still insists that its journalists and copy-editors write “Web log” to describe anything happening anywhere on say, a political blog, because a) they don’t think readers will understand the word “blog” and b) they think the word “blog” sounds hopelessly jargonistic.

  74. Robert, the New York Sun, one of two widely-read dailies in NY, still insists that its journalists and copy-editors write “Web log” to describe anything happening anywhere on say, a political blog, because a) they don’t think readers will understand the word “blog” and b) they think the word “blog” sounds hopelessly jargonistic.

  75. “Casey: I should have written “the drive change in society.” I guarantee you that the ones driving change in politics are not the people who are happy doing things the way they’ve always been done, but those who are looking for a new way to do it.”

    Scoble – you couldn’t be more right and we go through our own early adopter mass diffusion curves that are influenced by the demands and realities of campaign cycles.

    Perfect example is what was documented in “The War Room.” Carville, Begala and Stephanapolous were essentially pioneering early adopters for the Rapid Response framework that has become a staple of virtually every large-scale campaign on both sides of the aisle.

    It takes a while some times but we get there.

  76. “Casey: I should have written “the drive change in society.” I guarantee you that the ones driving change in politics are not the people who are happy doing things the way they’ve always been done, but those who are looking for a new way to do it.”

    Scoble – you couldn’t be more right and we go through our own early adopter mass diffusion curves that are influenced by the demands and realities of campaign cycles.

    Perfect example is what was documented in “The War Room.” Carville, Begala and Stephanapolous were essentially pioneering early adopters for the Rapid Response framework that has become a staple of virtually every large-scale campaign on both sides of the aisle.

    It takes a while some times but we get there.

  77. Robert – my main thesis is that for any new service to go truly mainstream, it has to solve a problem (real or perceived) for these more mainstream users. The guy with the old Dell and Windows 2000 on the plane next to you doesn’t need Twitter or FriendFeed to do his job.

    A lot of the newest breed of web services is solving problems for the hyperconnected whose friends are scattered all over the internet. Twitter – for most people – doesn’t solve a problem that email and forums hadn’t already solved for them.

    Now I love all this stuff, but my parents, colleagues and most of my friends simply don’t need it right now (though that can change over time).

  78. Robert – my main thesis is that for any new service to go truly mainstream, it has to solve a problem (real or perceived) for these more mainstream users. The guy with the old Dell and Windows 2000 on the plane next to you doesn’t need Twitter or FriendFeed to do his job.

    A lot of the newest breed of web services is solving problems for the hyperconnected whose friends are scattered all over the internet. Twitter – for most people – doesn’t solve a problem that email and forums hadn’t already solved for them.

    Now I love all this stuff, but my parents, colleagues and most of my friends simply don’t need it right now (though that can change over time).

  79. This concept posits that geeks can keep selling the stone-soup idea that everything should be copied and made free through voluntary gifting and free labour, and then only monetarized by essentially obfuscating it and making it hard to use, so that users need to pay consulting fees and maintenance fees to use it. Not so “open” then, is it?

    Yes and no. First I’m speaking more about B2B2C type products, and not twitter so it’s not right on topic.

    IMO its “never” good practice to build obfuscating/hard-to-use products on purpose, unless maybe you are a monopoly or the DMV. You’ll always lose to the better competitor.

    Rather, suppose I’ve built a software tool that is going to use a social networking concept to reduce the marketing expenses of your not so tech-savvy company. If I come to you and say this product will save you $100k/year and I’m going to charge you $10k/year, I still might not get a sale because a) you don’t trust my claim and b) you don’t have anyone to implement the tool on staff. Instead, I need to say it’ll save you $100k/year and its free. You can either implement it yourself or I’ll send my consultant Sue over to do it for $20k.

    This model is actually worse for me in some ways because it doesn’t “scale”, but its got a better chance of succeeding given the technology gap that exists, and provides my customers with more flexibility in terms of their investment/risk profile. If the tool does indeed work they can stop using Sue and bring it in house in year 2, etc.

  80. This concept posits that geeks can keep selling the stone-soup idea that everything should be copied and made free through voluntary gifting and free labour, and then only monetarized by essentially obfuscating it and making it hard to use, so that users need to pay consulting fees and maintenance fees to use it. Not so “open” then, is it?

    Yes and no. First I’m speaking more about B2B2C type products, and not twitter so it’s not right on topic.

    IMO its “never” good practice to build obfuscating/hard-to-use products on purpose, unless maybe you are a monopoly or the DMV. You’ll always lose to the better competitor.

    Rather, suppose I’ve built a software tool that is going to use a social networking concept to reduce the marketing expenses of your not so tech-savvy company. If I come to you and say this product will save you $100k/year and I’m going to charge you $10k/year, I still might not get a sale because a) you don’t trust my claim and b) you don’t have anyone to implement the tool on staff. Instead, I need to say it’ll save you $100k/year and its free. You can either implement it yourself or I’ll send my consultant Sue over to do it for $20k.

    This model is actually worse for me in some ways because it doesn’t “scale”, but its got a better chance of succeeding given the technology gap that exists, and provides my customers with more flexibility in terms of their investment/risk profile. If the tool does indeed work they can stop using Sue and bring it in house in year 2, etc.

  81. Robert: Yes, even personal computers are still fairly early in the adoption lifecycle. Too complicated (for many), too expensive (for most), and still too damn geeky for “normal people” (I hear an average man is kept in a vacuum sealed vault in Switzerland).

    That said, it simply takes time and effort before anything gets real momentum. I can still recall a good 5 years ago when a co-worker said to me, well, I guess I’ll create a blog now – seems like EVERYONE is doing it. Not even close then, or now.

    As someone covering enterprise adoption of tech around content, collaboration, information, knowledge, etc. – it’s very scary to see how far behind some companies are, although there are the lovely rare creatures who are the early adopters that help to bring the rest of their industry behind them (legal being a prime candidate – they just love seeing ‘precedent’ in all shapes).

  82. While early adopters are the precursor to success for many ventures (isn’t that axiomatic?) there is a flaw with this sort of analysis. I responded on my blog here (http://quitecontent.com/Archives/2008/May/EarlyAdoptorsandtheSurvi.html) but there is a “survivor” bias to looking back and comparing successful visionary companies driven by early adopters, and their more risk-averse competitors who are still serving the Win2000 crowd. Being a laggard can be a conscious choice.

  83. Robert: Yes, even personal computers are still fairly early in the adoption lifecycle. Too complicated (for many), too expensive (for most), and still too damn geeky for “normal people” (I hear an average man is kept in a vacuum sealed vault in Switzerland).

    That said, it simply takes time and effort before anything gets real momentum. I can still recall a good 5 years ago when a co-worker said to me, well, I guess I’ll create a blog now – seems like EVERYONE is doing it. Not even close then, or now.

    As someone covering enterprise adoption of tech around content, collaboration, information, knowledge, etc. – it’s very scary to see how far behind some companies are, although there are the lovely rare creatures who are the early adopters that help to bring the rest of their industry behind them (legal being a prime candidate – they just love seeing ‘precedent’ in all shapes).

  84. While early adopters are the precursor to success for many ventures (isn’t that axiomatic?) there is a flaw with this sort of analysis. I responded on my blog here (http://quitecontent.com/Archives/2008/May/EarlyAdoptorsandtheSurvi.html) but there is a “survivor” bias to looking back and comparing successful visionary companies driven by early adopters, and their more risk-averse competitors who are still serving the Win2000 crowd. Being a laggard can be a conscious choice.

  85. Frederic: that guy didn’t know he needed a PC, either. Same argument could have been had in 1977.

    Douglas Engelbart, inventor of the mouse, among other things we use on our computer screens, told me that one of the reasons that it took so long for all of his visions to happen is because most people could only see very limited uses. He had researcher after researcher tell him that computers would only be used by geeks and secretaries. His ideas were so weird, in fact, that he was kicked out of the research world in the 1970s.

    Twitter has lots of uses for normal people. Just stick around for 10 years and see.

  86. Frederic: that guy didn’t know he needed a PC, either. Same argument could have been had in 1977.

    Douglas Engelbart, inventor of the mouse, among other things we use on our computer screens, told me that one of the reasons that it took so long for all of his visions to happen is because most people could only see very limited uses. He had researcher after researcher tell him that computers would only be used by geeks and secretaries. His ideas were so weird, in fact, that he was kicked out of the research world in the 1970s.

    Twitter has lots of uses for normal people. Just stick around for 10 years and see.

  87. Although I am not really old enough to remember a time when Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were not dominating the tech industry, I DO feel like I am participating in the birth of something really big. This contributes to the reason why I am so excited to talk about these topics (and I am sure it is the same reason you choose to follow 20,000 Twitterers!)

    When you know something big is happening, when you know times are changing, you have to get in on it.

    I am new to this scene compared to you but I can already understand exactly where you’re coming from. And I am too excited to be a part of the “early adopters.”

    Thanks for joining my Ustream and mentioning me in your blog :) Ah, the power of the internet.

  88. Although I am not really old enough to remember a time when Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were not dominating the tech industry, I DO feel like I am participating in the birth of something really big. This contributes to the reason why I am so excited to talk about these topics (and I am sure it is the same reason you choose to follow 20,000 Twitterers!)

    When you know something big is happening, when you know times are changing, you have to get in on it.

    I am new to this scene compared to you but I can already understand exactly where you’re coming from. And I am too excited to be a part of the “early adopters.”

    Thanks for joining my Ustream and mentioning me in your blog :) Ah, the power of the internet.

  89. Fredric – I think what you said it true in absolute terms but historically disproved on a technical level.

    Several innovations over the last several decades actually created a need where one did not previously exist.

    The American people didn’t NEED personal computers until early adopters worked through the kinks and began developing applications that could benefit their lives (in truth they didn’t technically NEED those apps either at first – spreadsheet programs and the like created their own value by providing people and businesses with new ways to do things they had never considered doing).

    At first we didn’t NEED mobile phones – our lives revolved around using phones when we were at home or work and letting our answering machines handle the rest.

    As I said before I think the role of early adopters (of which I am not one) is to prove new technologies in the field so to speak. Through that proving process the idea moves from theory to practice and new ways to utilize the technology are developed.

    I think of my interactions with one of our largest corporations – they suffer from the silo syndrome that being so large creates and as a result different departments have no idea what the other is doing – even under the same director. I could definitely see a Twitter tweak where separate stream could be created for different company division that subscribes employees to whatever streams intersect with their particular job. Then again – maybe 6 months from now the Twitter community will shrug its collective shoulders and walk away because they found more novelty than value. I don’t think that will happen but that is the process we are discussing in action inho.

  90. Fredric – I think what you said it true in absolute terms but historically disproved on a technical level.

    Several innovations over the last several decades actually created a need where one did not previously exist.

    The American people didn’t NEED personal computers until early adopters worked through the kinks and began developing applications that could benefit their lives (in truth they didn’t technically NEED those apps either at first – spreadsheet programs and the like created their own value by providing people and businesses with new ways to do things they had never considered doing).

    At first we didn’t NEED mobile phones – our lives revolved around using phones when we were at home or work and letting our answering machines handle the rest.

    As I said before I think the role of early adopters (of which I am not one) is to prove new technologies in the field so to speak. Through that proving process the idea moves from theory to practice and new ways to utilize the technology are developed.

    I think of my interactions with one of our largest corporations – they suffer from the silo syndrome that being so large creates and as a result different departments have no idea what the other is doing – even under the same director. I could definitely see a Twitter tweak where separate stream could be created for different company division that subscribes employees to whatever streams intersect with their particular job. Then again – maybe 6 months from now the Twitter community will shrug its collective shoulders and walk away because they found more novelty than value. I don’t think that will happen but that is the process we are discussing in action inho.

  91. Off course Twitter isn’t used by Silicon Valley people only. But I doubt there are many Twitter users that do not have an Internet or technology background. Which is fine BTW. Twitter will definitely become mainstream because it serves a need. But many web 2.0 services will never make it mainstream, no matter how may early adopters like it.

  92. Off course Twitter isn’t used by Silicon Valley people only. But I doubt there are many Twitter users that do not have an Internet or technology background. Which is fine BTW. Twitter will definitely become mainstream because it serves a need. But many web 2.0 services will never make it mainstream, no matter how may early adopters like it.

  93. @Robert and @Aurelius: I think we fully agree about the long term – but in the short term, I think the disconnect between early adopters and ‘mainstream’ users is getting wider at an increasing speed.

    Needs change – absolutely – and often innovations create a (perceived) need. I’m just not sure the latest crop of social media tools will create those needs for most mainstream users.

  94. @Robert and @Aurelius: I think we fully agree about the long term – but in the short term, I think the disconnect between early adopters and ‘mainstream’ users is getting wider at an increasing speed.

    Needs change – absolutely – and often innovations create a (perceived) need. I’m just not sure the latest crop of social media tools will create those needs for most mainstream users.

  95. Frederick: >>I think the disconnect between early adopters and ‘mainstream’ users is getting wider at an increasing speed.

    I do agree with that to some extent. But that’s always been with us. We used to call it the digital divide.

  96. Frederick: >>I think the disconnect between early adopters and ‘mainstream’ users is getting wider at an increasing speed.

    I do agree with that to some extent. But that’s always been with us. We used to call it the digital divide.

  97. I have ZERO sympathy for any early adopter. Tech is a weird thing, and you have to expect potential issues, regardless of the product.

  98. I have ZERO sympathy for any early adopter. Tech is a weird thing, and you have to expect potential issues, regardless of the product.

  99. and I would add that it is understandable when you step back and look at the number of technological advances that have completely disrupted the way we live our lives in a very short period of time historically.

    You look at a timeline of history and it is plain to see that since the Industrial Revolution the speed at which socially disruptive innovations take hold has increased at an almost exponential level.

  100. and I would add that it is understandable when you step back and look at the number of technological advances that have completely disrupted the way we live our lives in a very short period of time historically.

    You look at a timeline of history and it is plain to see that since the Industrial Revolution the speed at which socially disruptive innovations take hold has increased at an almost exponential level.

  101. I am dealing with challenges here and found your post helpful.

    My strategy is to inform early adopters of what I am doing (Gnomedexers, and others on the bleeding edge) but build my product and marketing to appeal to the mainstream, using on-air cross-promotion and incentives to message them directly. The product is simple-stupid to use.

    The demographical dillemma is that we built a new media product that is targeted to the older demographic. Although we need early adopters to seed the community, we really need the mainstream to feel it is a place for them where they don’t have to know any Web 2.0 jargon to get around the site and the phone browser.

    So, I got advisors telling me to push to youth, but talk radio programming on our system that caters to the 35+ crowd of radio fans who are not all about online tools or podcasting.

  102. I am dealing with challenges here and found your post helpful.

    My strategy is to inform early adopters of what I am doing (Gnomedexers, and others on the bleeding edge) but build my product and marketing to appeal to the mainstream, using on-air cross-promotion and incentives to message them directly. The product is simple-stupid to use.

    The demographical dillemma is that we built a new media product that is targeted to the older demographic. Although we need early adopters to seed the community, we really need the mainstream to feel it is a place for them where they don’t have to know any Web 2.0 jargon to get around the site and the phone browser.

    So, I got advisors telling me to push to youth, but talk radio programming on our system that caters to the 35+ crowd of radio fans who are not all about online tools or podcasting.

  103. I agree with much of what you said, but IM is NOT built in to Exchange and hasn’t been for a long time.

  104. I agree with much of what you said, but IM is NOT built in to Exchange and hasn’t been for a long time.

  105. Perpetual Early Adoption…

    How do things change? Yeah, I know, that sounds like a bunch of metaphysical BS. But it starts getting practical when you add a qualifier statement like change “from what in and to what” and then apply that to a…

  106. Robert – I’m pretty sure that Facebook became popular with the masses (college students), and not via early adopters or celebrities.

    BTW, can you elaborate on your price/earnings comparison? I know what P/E ratios are, but not quite sure what parallel you are trying to draw? Isn’t a P/E ration simply a multiple that the Street gives a stock based on current revenue and future expectations (i.e. discounting the future)?

  107. Robert – I’m pretty sure that Facebook became popular with the masses (college students), and not via early adopters or celebrities.

    BTW, can you elaborate on your price/earnings comparison? I know what P/E ratios are, but not quite sure what parallel you are trying to draw? Isn’t a P/E ration simply a multiple that the Street gives a stock based on current revenue and future expectations (i.e. discounting the future)?

  108. College students are defacto early adopters. If they aren’t trying to improve their lives or learn something new, why go to college? Most college students I know are way ahead of people who are older than 40. That environment enables new ideas/things to spread very fast.

  109. A higher P/E means that the market puts a higher value on what the company is doing than what they actually look like they are doing in revenues and expenses. It also means the market expects a lot more growth out of Amazon than out of Best Buy. Early adopters are driving both beliefs.

  110. College students are defacto early adopters. If they aren’t trying to improve their lives or learn something new, why go to college? Most college students I know are way ahead of people who are older than 40. That environment enables new ideas/things to spread very fast.

  111. A higher P/E means that the market puts a higher value on what the company is doing than what they actually look like they are doing in revenues and expenses. It also means the market expects a lot more growth out of Amazon than out of Best Buy. Early adopters are driving both beliefs.

  112. Quick Hits…

    Worth reading on a Thursday night. Colin Walker: If I’m not a blogger then what am I? Some good thoughts about the latest navel gazing episode on the Internet, prompted in large part by Louis Gray’s latest round of posts….

  113. “…more than 1.8 million users
    have installed the Smilebox service since its launch in June 2006 and more
    than 1.3 million unique users worldwide access it monthly.”

    http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/12-11-2007/0004720355&EDATE=

    “..1.3 million total [Twitter] users three weeks ago…””

    http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/29/end-of-speculation-the-real-twitter-usage-numbers/

    Smilebox and Twitter have roughly the same number of active monthly users and started about the same time. But how many times have you read about Smilebox on this blog, Techmeme, etc.

    I am sure there are other examples. Webkinz , games.aarp.org, etc.

  114. “…more than 1.8 million users
    have installed the Smilebox service since its launch in June 2006 and more
    than 1.3 million unique users worldwide access it monthly.”

    http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/12-11-2007/0004720355&EDATE=

    “..1.3 million total [Twitter] users three weeks ago…””

    http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/29/end-of-speculation-the-real-twitter-usage-numbers/

    Smilebox and Twitter have roughly the same number of active monthly users and started about the same time. But how many times have you read about Smilebox on this blog, Techmeme, etc.

    I am sure there are other examples. Webkinz , games.aarp.org, etc.

  115. I mostly think that people are late adopters by choice, they wait for 5-10 people to tell them how great something is before (potentially) wasting their time on it.

    Non-early adopters think if something isn’t well known or popular it can’t be any good where as early adopters think the opposite – how many early adopters really like facebook for instance?.

    Also anyone who does actually adopt anything early tends to get all the problems and longer you wait the more the problems have been sorted out – early adopters tend not to recommend things to non-early adopters until these problems have died down.

  116. I mostly think that people are late adopters by choice, they wait for 5-10 people to tell them how great something is before (potentially) wasting their time on it.

    Non-early adopters think if something isn’t well known or popular it can’t be any good where as early adopters think the opposite – how many early adopters really like facebook for instance?.

    Also anyone who does actually adopt anything early tends to get all the problems and longer you wait the more the problems have been sorted out – early adopters tend not to recommend things to non-early adopters until these problems have died down.

  117. Early adaptors is a relatively new concept to me — coming from a study of the book “Remarkable Leadership” by group I’m in with 997Make Money Now.
    They may be the drivers of change, but constitute only 13.5 %.
    If people all follow them to all the tech “toys” as some put it, we really won’t be able to handle all the waste that is being discarded. The author of “Waste Makers” years ago had no idea what this would all lead to.
    I tend to agree with Casey in his statement “Early adopters do not drive society, they drive a segment of *consumption* within society. The consumption of technology-related products and services is primarily a sector of the economy which then arguably impacts cultural behavior, and ultimately society. Let’s not be so self-aggrandizing that we believe ourselves more relevant or influential than the public, or even of the agricultural sectors as each relates to “driving society”.

  118. Early adaptors is a relatively new concept to me — coming from a study of the book “Remarkable Leadership” by group I’m in with 997Make Money Now.
    They may be the drivers of change, but constitute only 13.5 %.
    If people all follow them to all the tech “toys” as some put it, we really won’t be able to handle all the waste that is being discarded. The author of “Waste Makers” years ago had no idea what this would all lead to.
    I tend to agree with Casey in his statement “Early adopters do not drive society, they drive a segment of *consumption* within society. The consumption of technology-related products and services is primarily a sector of the economy which then arguably impacts cultural behavior, and ultimately society. Let’s not be so self-aggrandizing that we believe ourselves more relevant or influential than the public, or even of the agricultural sectors as each relates to “driving society”.

  119. Robert you had me until you started talking P/E ratio. A higher P/E ratio does not necessarily mean you’d want to own a stock. A high P/E can be an indicator that a stock is grossly overvalued. A low P/E can mean that a stock is an excellent buy. There are many other factors that dictate whether or not making an investment in a particular stock is worthwhile.

    More importantly, P/E has nothing to do with the overall early adopterness of a company.

  120. Robert you had me until you started talking P/E ratio. A higher P/E ratio does not necessarily mean you’d want to own a stock. A high P/E can be an indicator that a stock is grossly overvalued. A low P/E can mean that a stock is an excellent buy. There are many other factors that dictate whether or not making an investment in a particular stock is worthwhile.

    More importantly, P/E has nothing to do with the overall early adopterness of a company.

  121. Jake: I think there’s a sizeable correllation between early adopterness (or, at minimum, what passionates and influentials think of said company) and P/E ratio.

    I’m not talking about owning the stock. Although I’d certainly rather own Amazon’s stock than Best Buy’s.

  122. Jake: I think there’s a sizeable correllation between early adopterness (or, at minimum, what passionates and influentials think of said company) and P/E ratio.

    I’m not talking about owning the stock. Although I’d certainly rather own Amazon’s stock than Best Buy’s.

  123. It’s almost laughable how clueless about basic business concepts people in tech are. Early adopter is a basic marketing classification. Just go read “Crossing the Chasm”, it explains everything Scoble is woefully trying to say in his post.

    Couple of things, Scoble: Neither Domino, nor Exchange come with IM built in. They are sold as separate server products. Guess you never go around to interviewing the Exchange team when you were at MS, nor ever go around to talking to that other tech company, IBM, about their collaboration offerings.

    “I can’t name a service that didn’t get popular with either early adopters or celebrities first, before going mainstream. Can anyone?”

    Uhh… electricity?. Mass transit? Insurance? Medical care. Home delivery? Prostitution? Gambling, As for products:
    The Ford Mustang. The Chevy Camaro. The Chrysler Mini-van. The iPhone. The Wii. the playstation. The Hula Hoop. The Frisbee.

    As for Twitter, for Early and Late Majority, it’s still a solution looking for a problem. A problem that segment already has a solution for: email, instant messaging, text messaging. The Early and Late Majority is not so insecure and narcissistic that it needs to “follow” hundreds of people and be informed and inform them of what they are doing or thinking. Until there is more value in Twitter than what they are currently using to stay in touch with their friends, it will still be the niche of the virtual SV crowd.

  124. It’s almost laughable how clueless about basic business concepts people in tech are. Early adopter is a basic marketing classification. Just go read “Crossing the Chasm”, it explains everything Scoble is woefully trying to say in his post.

    Couple of things, Scoble: Neither Domino, nor Exchange come with IM built in. They are sold as separate server products. Guess you never go around to interviewing the Exchange team when you were at MS, nor ever go around to talking to that other tech company, IBM, about their collaboration offerings.

    “I can’t name a service that didn’t get popular with either early adopters or celebrities first, before going mainstream. Can anyone?”

    Uhh… electricity?. Mass transit? Insurance? Medical care. Home delivery? Prostitution? Gambling, As for products:
    The Ford Mustang. The Chevy Camaro. The Chrysler Mini-van. The iPhone. The Wii. the playstation. The Hula Hoop. The Frisbee.

    As for Twitter, for Early and Late Majority, it’s still a solution looking for a problem. A problem that segment already has a solution for: email, instant messaging, text messaging. The Early and Late Majority is not so insecure and narcissistic that it needs to “follow” hundreds of people and be informed and inform them of what they are doing or thinking. Until there is more value in Twitter than what they are currently using to stay in touch with their friends, it will still be the niche of the virtual SV crowd.

  125. Danny: the car companies regularly make sure their cars are seen by early adopters/influentials/celebrities/passionates before they are seen by guys who are using old Windows 2000 computers.

    I remember the Frisbee. It got popular because early adopters bought it and showed it around at parks and got late adopters to join in games.

    Wii? OK, I didn’t buy one, but guys who still use Windows 2000 didn’t either. Who did? Kids who wanted a different kind of game. Dave Winer did too and still is showing his to me and trying to get me to buy one.

    The rest? They are so old that who knows who the early adopters were and how they popularized the things.

  126. Danny: the car companies regularly make sure their cars are seen by early adopters/influentials/celebrities/passionates before they are seen by guys who are using old Windows 2000 computers.

    I remember the Frisbee. It got popular because early adopters bought it and showed it around at parks and got late adopters to join in games.

    Wii? OK, I didn’t buy one, but guys who still use Windows 2000 didn’t either. Who did? Kids who wanted a different kind of game. Dave Winer did too and still is showing his to me and trying to get me to buy one.

    The rest? They are so old that who knows who the early adopters were and how they popularized the things.

  127. Not a new concept. The concept of ‘crossing the chasm’ has been around for years and was certainly well discussed back in the boom and it was chucked out there again with Tipping Point style discussions.

  128. Not a new concept. The concept of ‘crossing the chasm’ has been around for years and was certainly well discussed back in the boom and it was chucked out there again with Tipping Point style discussions.

  129. Ahh, more of the usual elitist tripe. Value in marketing and early looks, no matter whom, but focusing on edge-case needs is the surest way to product ruination, as you create things that appeal to very small segments, taking the simple and functional to the death-inducing complex.

    Entire industries SKIP early adopters wholesale and go product-marketing test base, heck, I live in Peoria, dead central for test marketing (I see this daily), they want the WIDEST demographic group possible, your Tweeting Geeks aren’t that.

    Twitter is a feature, IM gone broadcast, nothing more and much less, easily cloned. Stop wetting your pants over the latest shiny toy.

  130. Ahh, more of the usual elitist tripe. Value in marketing and early looks, no matter whom, but focusing on edge-case needs is the surest way to product ruination, as you create things that appeal to very small segments, taking the simple and functional to the death-inducing complex.

    Entire industries SKIP early adopters wholesale and go product-marketing test base, heck, I live in Peoria, dead central for test marketing (I see this daily), they want the WIDEST demographic group possible, your Tweeting Geeks aren’t that.

    Twitter is a feature, IM gone broadcast, nothing more and much less, easily cloned. Stop wetting your pants over the latest shiny toy.

  131. I’m not sure why there is so much hostility for the concept that they is a segment of the population that regularly “gets it” and begins using certain products and services before others.

    The fact that their have been certain things that have instantly resonated with the public at large does not negate this fact or indiscriminately label non-early adopters as less-thans.

    Of course electricity took off quickly – how hard was it for everyone to make the connection between lighting a candle with a match versus flipping a switch that would automatically supply a “candle” with an endless supply of power to light? Not hard at all.

    The value of many new technologies however are not as easy for the average person to grasp. in fact if you watch the conversations that have been going on Twitter etc you begin to see that even the most “cutting edge” early adopters are grappling with the role these kinds of technologies could play in our lives.

    That’s the point. Early adopters, by nature, are bent towards seeking out and developing an understanding of the value of new products. In the process they vet a product’s validity and tweak its focus and use. Products that find no really value or use in the early adopter community die on the vine and those that do find their place are slowly transferred to the population at large for use.

    Again – some innovations provide benefits that are so obvious that everyone immediately understands their use and – providing they are financially able to do so – they adopt them. For everything else there are early adopters.

    No morally good or bad – just fact.

  132. I’m not sure why there is so much hostility for the concept that they is a segment of the population that regularly “gets it” and begins using certain products and services before others.

    The fact that their have been certain things that have instantly resonated with the public at large does not negate this fact or indiscriminately label non-early adopters as less-thans.

    Of course electricity took off quickly – how hard was it for everyone to make the connection between lighting a candle with a match versus flipping a switch that would automatically supply a “candle” with an endless supply of power to light? Not hard at all.

    The value of many new technologies however are not as easy for the average person to grasp. in fact if you watch the conversations that have been going on Twitter etc you begin to see that even the most “cutting edge” early adopters are grappling with the role these kinds of technologies could play in our lives.

    That’s the point. Early adopters, by nature, are bent towards seeking out and developing an understanding of the value of new products. In the process they vet a product’s validity and tweak its focus and use. Products that find no really value or use in the early adopter community die on the vine and those that do find their place are slowly transferred to the population at large for use.

    Again – some innovations provide benefits that are so obvious that everyone immediately understands their use and – providing they are financially able to do so – they adopt them. For everything else there are early adopters.

    No morally good or bad – just fact.

  133. Robert, with all due respect, given your age there is no way in hell you remember the origin of the Frisbee craze, given that Wham-O released the toy in 1957. It was actually originally popular amongst college students. The point is, there was no “early adopter” period, per se. Wham-O did a great job of mass marketing.

    As for cars, you are also off base. Car companies trot out concept cars at auto shows, and make sure the press and the trades cover it enough to measure interest. Then they decide to go to market and build the real thing, then, again, they do a mass market advertising campaign. But there is hardly a time where a small selection of people and “celebrities” are driving a mass produced car no one ever heard of. I guess the closest example would be GM’s campaign of putting the new Camaro in Transformers. And yes, there is a small set of people that march into a dealership a put a deposit down on a car that has yet to be produced. I would not call them early adopters.

    You completely lost me on you Wii counterpoint. Again, Nintendo did a mass marketing campaign about the Wii that generated enough pent up demand for almost everyone to want one. There as no “early adopter” phase where a small set of the population was using the product and tried to convince others it was a cool thing. If there was a small set, it was only due to lack of supply, not lack of knowledge of the product.

    The early adopter concept applies more to technology than anything else. So, yes, Twitter is still being used by early adopters. And it may well continue to stay that way. And even if more normal people learn about Twitter, if they don;t see it solving a problem they don’t already have a solution for (IM, text messaging, email), it won’t catch on.

  134. Robert, with all due respect, given your age there is no way in hell you remember the origin of the Frisbee craze, given that Wham-O released the toy in 1957. It was actually originally popular amongst college students. The point is, there was no “early adopter” period, per se. Wham-O did a great job of mass marketing.

    As for cars, you are also off base. Car companies trot out concept cars at auto shows, and make sure the press and the trades cover it enough to measure interest. Then they decide to go to market and build the real thing, then, again, they do a mass market advertising campaign. But there is hardly a time where a small selection of people and “celebrities” are driving a mass produced car no one ever heard of. I guess the closest example would be GM’s campaign of putting the new Camaro in Transformers. And yes, there is a small set of people that march into a dealership a put a deposit down on a car that has yet to be produced. I would not call them early adopters.

    You completely lost me on you Wii counterpoint. Again, Nintendo did a mass marketing campaign about the Wii that generated enough pent up demand for almost everyone to want one. There as no “early adopter” phase where a small set of the population was using the product and tried to convince others it was a cool thing. If there was a small set, it was only due to lack of supply, not lack of knowledge of the product.

    The early adopter concept applies more to technology than anything else. So, yes, Twitter is still being used by early adopters. And it may well continue to stay that way. And even if more normal people learn about Twitter, if they don;t see it solving a problem they don’t already have a solution for (IM, text messaging, email), it won’t catch on.

  135. aureliusmaximus, I completely agree. I was simply answering Scoble’s challenge to name a service that didn’t go through an early adopter phase. I somehow doubt prostitution, as a “service” had early adopters. Agreed not every product or service has early adopters first. Scoble seems to making the case they EVERY product or service goes through an early adopter phase. As you rightly point out, that is not always the case.

  136. aureliusmaximus, I completely agree. I was simply answering Scoble’s challenge to name a service that didn’t go through an early adopter phase. I somehow doubt prostitution, as a “service” had early adopters. Agreed not every product or service has early adopters first. Scoble seems to making the case they EVERY product or service goes through an early adopter phase. As you rightly point out, that is not always the case.

  137. I think the label “early adopter” is being defined far too loosely here. What you are largely referring to are initial users of a product or service. Of course anything new, whether it succeeds in the long term or not, is going to have someone who tries it first. Early adopters, on the other hand, are individuals willing to take huge risks (in time, money, convenience) to embrace a novel technology. They quite often have a hand in the development of the project and, if it meets their needs satisfactorily, can be important opinion influencers.

    I would not characterize the initial users of Twitter and FriendFeed as early adopters. Neither service is first in their respective technologies. There have been Twitter-like platforms and social feed aggregators in existence for quite some time and with far more technical sophistication. What makes these two later-movers stand out is their incredible simplicity and ease of adoption. Thus, users tend to fit the profile of an early majority rather than visionaries, with a narrow chasm between them and the only real barrier being the network effect. This is where the angst you speak of comes from.

    As much as I value the innovators and nerds out there (I consider myself to be among them), I think you give far too much credit to your “early adopters.” If they were the ones who drive society as you suggest, then VHS would not have beaten out Betamax and MySpace would not be so popular today.

  138. I think the label “early adopter” is being defined far too loosely here. What you are largely referring to are initial users of a product or service. Of course anything new, whether it succeeds in the long term or not, is going to have someone who tries it first. Early adopters, on the other hand, are individuals willing to take huge risks (in time, money, convenience) to embrace a novel technology. They quite often have a hand in the development of the project and, if it meets their needs satisfactorily, can be important opinion influencers.

    I would not characterize the initial users of Twitter and FriendFeed as early adopters. Neither service is first in their respective technologies. There have been Twitter-like platforms and social feed aggregators in existence for quite some time and with far more technical sophistication. What makes these two later-movers stand out is their incredible simplicity and ease of adoption. Thus, users tend to fit the profile of an early majority rather than visionaries, with a narrow chasm between them and the only real barrier being the network effect. This is where the angst you speak of comes from.

    As much as I value the innovators and nerds out there (I consider myself to be among them), I think you give far too much credit to your “early adopters.” If they were the ones who drive society as you suggest, then VHS would not have beaten out Betamax and MySpace would not be so popular today.

  139. You really think Neil Young with that classic acoustic guitar is driving society? ;-)

    Come on… these are just tools. You don’t need the latest shiny object to have “passion”.

  140. You really think Neil Young with that classic acoustic guitar is driving society? ;-)

    Come on… these are just tools. You don’t need the latest shiny object to have “passion”.

  141. [...] Scobleizer ? Tech geek blogger » Blog Archive Early adopter angst « – Scoble explains well one of the divers for being an early adopter – ?because people understand what I?m talking about here.? [...]

  142. We’ve been making a big push internally to get employees signed up on Twitter and using it. In just a few weeks, we now have over 250 employees on Twitter:

    http://twitter.zappos.com/employees

    Most of our employees are not normally early adopters. But because we’ve been making a big push internally, and Twitter is more useful when you have friends using it, a lot of employees have really embraced Twitter whereas on their own without other people at Zappos participating they probably would not have. You can see our employees’ Twitter activity here:

    http://twitter.zappos.com/employee_tweets

    It’s a lot of ongoing chatter, compared to almost no chatter just a few weeks ago. I sent out an email to employees to this getting started guide I wrote:

    http://twitter.zappos.com/start

    Most of the rest of our employees’ Twitter activity happened on its own.

    Starting next week, we are offering Twitter 101 classes at our headquarters (we are in Vegas, not Silicon Valley) to get even more employees to sign up. So I guess all I’m saying is that there are ways to get normally late adopters to become early adopters, and it doesn’t have to be very hard or very expensive.

  143. We’ve been making a big push internally to get employees signed up on Twitter and using it. In just a few weeks, we now have over 250 employees on Twitter:

    http://twitter.zappos.com/employees

    Most of our employees are not normally early adopters. But because we’ve been making a big push internally, and Twitter is more useful when you have friends using it, a lot of employees have really embraced Twitter whereas on their own without other people at Zappos participating they probably would not have. You can see our employees’ Twitter activity here:

    http://twitter.zappos.com/employee_tweets

    It’s a lot of ongoing chatter, compared to almost no chatter just a few weeks ago. I sent out an email to employees to this getting started guide I wrote:

    http://twitter.zappos.com/start

    Most of the rest of our employees’ Twitter activity happened on its own.

    Starting next week, we are offering Twitter 101 classes at our headquarters (we are in Vegas, not Silicon Valley) to get even more employees to sign up. So I guess all I’m saying is that there are ways to get normally late adopters to become early adopters, and it doesn’t have to be very hard or very expensive.

  144. If they were the ones who drive society as you suggest

    Microsoft wouldn’t even exist. Toyota wouldn’t be #1. Bennie Babies wouldn’t have been a fad. ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ wouldn’t have made it beyond its first showing. ‘Murder She Wrote’ wouldn’t continue to rerun-forever torture us. Kitsch and Pop Art wouldn’t exist. WalMart wouldn’t be, nor would ANY of the paperbacks they (dare to) sell. Motorcycle Clubs wouldn’t be. Britney Spears wouldn’t have ever sold a single record. No one would dare read People Magazine.

    I mean, I could fill a book, evidences of mass-culture dominance are ALL AROUND US, yet Scoble in his blind-cult-walk can’t manage to see a single one.

    Pop culture varies greatly from society elitist-culture, anyone with a 9 volts worth of juice could tell you that.

  145. If they were the ones who drive society as you suggest

    Microsoft wouldn’t even exist. Toyota wouldn’t be #1. Bennie Babies wouldn’t have been a fad. ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ wouldn’t have made it beyond its first showing. ‘Murder She Wrote’ wouldn’t continue to rerun-forever torture us. Kitsch and Pop Art wouldn’t exist. WalMart wouldn’t be, nor would ANY of the paperbacks they (dare to) sell. Motorcycle Clubs wouldn’t be. Britney Spears wouldn’t have ever sold a single record. No one would dare read People Magazine.

    I mean, I could fill a book, evidences of mass-culture dominance are ALL AROUND US, yet Scoble in his blind-cult-walk can’t manage to see a single one.

    Pop culture varies greatly from society elitist-culture, anyone with a 9 volts worth of juice could tell you that.

  146. Christopher: how did Toyota get the brand position it did? By appealing to early adopters. Heck, let’s look at just the Prius. It has such a strong brand position among early adopters that other hybrids are having trouble getting recognized as hybrids.

    Britney Spears? Celebrities are BUILT by appealing to early adopters first. http://www.hypem.com for you bud. Not to mention that she, when she was fairly popular and not all doped up, would get paid up to $100,000 just to show up to a bar for 10 minutes. Why? Cause that would kick off the influence networks.

    I’m talking about how things get popular. You’re talking about things that already are popular. Big difference.

  147. Christopher: how did Toyota get the brand position it did? By appealing to early adopters. Heck, let’s look at just the Prius. It has such a strong brand position among early adopters that other hybrids are having trouble getting recognized as hybrids.

    Britney Spears? Celebrities are BUILT by appealing to early adopters first. http://www.hypem.com for you bud. Not to mention that she, when she was fairly popular and not all doped up, would get paid up to $100,000 just to show up to a bar for 10 minutes. Why? Cause that would kick off the influence networks.

    I’m talking about how things get popular. You’re talking about things that already are popular. Big difference.

  148. The Google brand is becoming a mainstay in everyone’s daily vocabulary. Eventually the term ‘to Google” will be a word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

    So it’s sad how lazy and inefficient MSN & Yahoo are. They have the funds but not the balls to move quickly and change.

    We use PPC on all 3 and Google is by far the easiest to work with. Sad but true. We’re watching though…

  149. The Google brand is becoming a mainstay in everyone’s daily vocabulary. Eventually the term ‘to Google” will be a word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

    So it’s sad how lazy and inefficient MSN & Yahoo are. They have the funds but not the balls to move quickly and change.

    We use PPC on all 3 and Google is by far the easiest to work with. Sad but true. We’re watching though…

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