In 1957, Joe Bohlen, George Beal and Everett Rogers published The Diffusion Process for the Agriculture Extension Service of Iowa State College. It focused on which farmers were buying hybrid corn. The work was later generalized into Diffusion of Innovations by Everett Rogers. Typically, adopters of innovations are organized into five groups, the innovators, the early adopters, the early majority, the late majority and the laggards. It seems to be a useful way of looking at even the innovations in online social networks of today, somewhat.
The caveat is that when a new innovation comes out from Google, everyone tries to jump on board right away and this messes up the whole process. So, for example, Google+ reportedly already has 4.5 million users. Facebook reported has 750 million users. So, Google has just over one half of one percent of the users that Facebook has. This would seem to suggest that the vast majority of users should be ‘innovators’, since in the typical diffusion model, the first 2.5% are innovators.
However, from all that I am seeing, I question whether that is really the case. It seems as if there are others who are kicking the tires, and perhaps even saying negative stuff about Google+ because they are non-innovators using a tool that is still really only ready for innovators.
This came to mind in a tweet chat, where people were complaining that they didn’t know what problem Google+ was trying to solve. I would suggest this is a non-innovators way of looking at a recent innovation. In that discussion, I quote Robert F Kennedy’s famous line "Some men see things as they are and ask 'Why?' I dream things that never were and ask, 'Why not?'" I would suggest that this characterizes the innovators approach. The innovator doesn’t look at an innovation and ask what problem it was created to solve. The innovator revels in exploring the innovation for its own sake, for the joy of exploration and innovation. The innovator comes up with ideas about how the innovation could be used.
To me, that is the state that Google+ is in right now. There are a lot of interesting aspects about how it could be used waiting to be explored. One friend, who self-identifies as an innovator described one of the things he is enjoying about the Google+ experience right now, is the feeling of “we’re all figuring this out together”. That is an innovator’s perspective, and I join with him in enjoying this phase of the innovati8on.
Another friend wrote, “After playing with Google+ a bit and contemplating several applications to community building, I could feel my brain frying”. She talked about feeling the need to disconnect. While I am glad she is on Google+, it may not yet be her time. My innovator friends and I will explore what can be done with Google+. Then, my early adopter friend will see one of those things that clicks for her, and she will run with it. She will do some fantastic community building using the innovation along with the ideas that innovators have come up with how to use it. Either that, or my innovator friends and I will not come up with ideas that resonate for her and other early adopters, and Google+ will need to go through more changes before it is ready for early adopters. Perhaps, even, the innovators won’t find anything at all, in the time frame that Google is looking at, and they will pull the plug, prematurely in the eyes of various innovators, like they have with Google Wave or Google Health.
Of course, once an early adopter finds the application of the innovation that resonates, and starts using it, that is when things take off. This is what the early majority sees and what draws them in; not only the innovation, but the community of practice and the best practices they have established, and most importantly a simple way that they can see how it makes their lives better.
One problem is that the late majority and the laggards, who generally don’t like change, will spend their time complaining about how the change really isn’t all the beneficial. In previous days, they might not start their griping until the innovation has already started being picked up by the early majority, and by then it is too late. However, today, with everything happening instantaneously, the laggards are managing to read enough about innovations like Goolge+ to start attacking it right away. As an innovator, I can only wonder how many innovations die because of this.
So, are you on Google+? Do you consider yourself an innovator? An Early adopter? Part of the Early Majority, the Late Majority, or a laggard? How does your approach to the diffusion of innovations relate to your reaction to Google+?
His post ends,
as creative and interesting QR codes are, I’m a bit skeptical in terms of mass adoption. For some reason, I can’t imagine consumer behavior changing to start scanning codes for things when they could just search or enter a URL. There’s also the technology that needs to be adopted by more devices.
Granted, I was a bit skeptical of Foursquare and Twitter too, but also Google Wave and Second Life.
What do you think?
My regular readers will recall that I've talked a lot about QR codes, as well as Google Wave and Second Life. So, I wrote a fairly long comment, that stands pretty well as a blog post of its own:
I am an innovator/early adopter in the technology adoption lifecycle, so I've always been a fan of new sites and new technology, whether it be Foursquare, Twitter, or Second Life and Google Wave, so it should come as no surprise that I'm QR Code believer.
First, however, let me offer a brief digression about Second Life and Google Wave. I don't believe either of those ideas failed. What failed was the companies efforts to promote it. I've spent a lot of time in Second Life and alway felt it was seriously mismanaged. I started talking a lot back then about the importance of open source virtual worlds, and just as we see Second Life dwindling, we are seeing more and more interest in OpenSim, an open source version of Second Life servers. While I have less for criticisms of Google, I find it interesting that while Google has stopped promoting Google Wave, they handed to code over to Apache, and there folks working on various open source Apache Wave servers. (I've run both OpenSim and Apache Wave servers).
Okay. Back to QR Codes. People need a reason to scan a barcode, whether it is a one dimensional or two dimensional bar code. In supermarkets, where UPC codes have been around for a many years, and during the early years, were rarely scanned, it is only in recent years we have gotten to the point of consumers scanning bar codes as they check out. They get something in return, a shorter wait in the checkout line. (At least in theory).
If people will scan UPC codes for some value, they will scan QR codes if value is presented to them. I've seen small specialized cases where that value exists: Scanning a QR Code at a museum to get information about a painting. More information for those who scan QR codes. I've heard stories of people scanning QR Codes in Japan to request taxis pick them up at a taxi stand. Better service for those who scan QR codes. I've heard stories of QR codes on Real Estate ads as a more efficient way of asking for information about a house for sale, but I haven't seen that and don't have details. That said, the QR Codes that I've scanned in magazine articles have not provided me any benefit.
So, will QR Codes make it? Yeah, when some creative people find ways of using them to provide value to customers that they can also profit off of, and I'm sure there are some creative people out there that can pull it off.
It has been a while since I’ve written about Google Wave, Virtual Worlds, or for that matter the Whitney Biennial. However, since attending the Biennial with two of my daughters, I’ve been kicking around the idea for this blog post mashing up ideas from Google Wave, Virtual Worlds and the Whitney Biennial.
One of the things that jumped out at me as I looked at paintings in the Whitney was how different we approach the visual from the written. With the written word, we typically start at the beginning and follow read the material sequentially. As I’ve written about before, some people get bent out of shape when emails are not sequential, but the most important content is posted at the top of a reply, instead of at the bottom or interspersed in the email.
Google Wave was set up, in part, to address some of that and material is added at various appropriate points throughout the wave. To address the chronological sequence, Google Wave gives you the ability to playback a wave over time so you can see where the content fits, not only on the page, but in the time stream. Material is arranged in an order created by the artist. At the Whitney, it is typically shown over and over again, and people may walk in at the middle and only watch part of it, or may watch the end, followed by the beginning. Yet there is still a sequential aspect. The same applies to music.
While Google Wave does have the ability to add rich media content, it is predominantly text based and there does not seem to be much of intermixing sequential audio and sequential video content with the static text content. Likewise, the various pieces of content are not arranged spatially as they would be in a painting.
One way to expand the use of Google Wave for artistic expression would be to look at better interoperability with virtual worlds like Second Life or OpenSim. Imagine, for a moment, a virtual world where people could interact and not only add three dimensional models, but pictures, text, and music in a Google Wave style where you can playback the modifications in the order in which they were added.
To add to the spatial component, the scene could be presented more like a painting with the video, audio, or text being played back when the user moves the mouse over the content, so the viewer could start at whatever point and have more control over the experience.
It may be possible to do some of this already with virtual worlds, but I haven’t seen any good examples of this. With a system like that, some interesting installations could take place in a Google Virtual Wave Biennial. What do you think?
It’s been over a month since I’ve written about Google Wave servers, mostly because I’ve been distracted by my new Nokia N900. However, some recent emails brought me back to looking at Google Wave.
When most people think about Google Wave, they tend to think of Google’s Wave Preview Site. However, Wave is much more than that. There is the Google Wave Protocol and example code that allows people to set up their own Wave Servers as well as create new tools to work with Google Wave.
I’ve been running a Wave Server for quite a while. It is mostly for friends to test with. I’ve connected it to other wave servers, tested out clients, and even tried a little hacking of the software.
Today, I read about a new Google Wave Agent. It is called Probey and provides an http interface to Google Wave servers. I upgraded my server and gave it a try. Currently, it is open in testing mode for anyone that is interested. I am using the default port, 8090, the default userid of foo and the default password of bar.
So, if you want to use Probey to create a new wave on my wave server, you could visit http://foo:firstname.lastname@example.org:8090/new. If Probey is up and running, you should get a message back something like: orient-lodge.com!w+GZ4GMP7r0jIm. This is the wave that you have just created.
You can then add text to that wave by going to http://foo:email@example.com:8090/addblip/orient-lodge.com!w+GZ4GMP7r0jIm/TestMessage. This will add ‘TestMessage’ as a blip to the wave you’ve just created. You will have to change the WaveID to be the one that you created. You should receive a message back, something like b+RQQYaz. That is the id of the blip created. To check to see that the blip has been created, as well as to see any other blips that have been created, you can use the getblip command. i.e http://foo:firstname.lastname@example.org:8090/getblips/orient-lodge.com!w+GZ4GMP7r0jIm. That should show all the blips created for this wave. As a final command, you can also add other people to the wave. So, http://foo:email@example.com:8090/add/orient-lodge.com!w+GZ4GMP7r0jImfirstname.lastname@example.org would add my test userid, email@example.com to the blip.
The code for Probey looks pretty straight forward, so adding other functionality should be relatively easy. For example, I would love to add a getusers command to see who else is on the wave. Other than that, with a little tweaking and cleanup, it might be possible to use this for two different projects I’m interested in. One is as an http gateway for other systems. As an example, a person could use this to set up a gateway between Second Life and Google Wave. In addition, while it may not be the most efficient way to restore a way and provide persistence between waves, I could see this as a tool to restore old waves.
So, are you testing Google Wave? Got any thoughts on what else could be done to make this a more interesting tool?
Assuming you have gotten your Wave Server up and running, the big problem is managing to federate with other servers. I’ve spent a bit of time talking with various people about this on Google Wave and have had moderate success. With that, let me share a few of my thoughts and experiences with this.