My brother-in-law recently visited and said something to the effect, of “you were really on to something with Twitter” in regard to the fact that he had first heard of Twitter from me some time ago, and now it would appear that everyone is talking about it.
I’ve always liked to be the one “in the know” about something before everyone else. The best bands are those that I liked before the rest of the world discovered them. The best restaurant is the one I loved before it gets so popular you need reservations. So, it was with mixed feelings that I ejoyed the props of being an early adopter of Twitter.
But picking that “next big thing” is less about picking one as it is many, I believe. Since I moved into an online-focused position at work three years ago, I’ve joined way more online sites/services that you’ve probably never heard of than those that you have. StumbleUpon still stumbles along and may see new life with Su.pr; but, there’s not an ounce of time spent in Pownce. I don’t lurk in Plurk anymore, although many still do. And SocialThing, losing the aggregator scene to FriendFeed is retooling as a back-end service for AOL.
Those of us who are early adopters may not always know where our time exploring these new ventures will take us, but it appears that we are needed if the majority of users are ever to learn of them.
Way back in 1983 BI (Before Internet), communications scholar Dr. Everett M. Rogers wrote: “So the role of the early adopter is to decrease uncertainty about a new idea by adopting it, and then conveying a subjective evaluation of the innovation to near-peers by means of interpersonal networks.”
Which might explain why so much of the conversation on Twitter is about social media – all the early adopters are relaying their evaluations of the new tools to their “near-peers.” But, if we’re really going to fulfill our role in the adoption of that new technology we’ve got to get away from the other early adopters and spend more time with the 34 percent of the adopters Rogers identified as the “early majority” and the next 34 percent of the adopters are the “late majority.”