Beth Kanter alerted me to Nancy White’s work on the problem of the “second wave of adoption” of social networking stuff. The problem as set out is simple. Some people really get it and move quickly to innovate in the way they collaborate online. Behind them comes another wave (or wavelet) who are not so keen and are much harder to bring on board.
David Wilcox writes about potential opportunities in the uk to encourage the reluctant second wavers.
So here are a couple of barriers:
- Unh? The whole process can seem absurd to some. Take what I’m doing at the moment (hardly a cutting edge example). I’m writing about some thoughts shared with me by someone I know (David), someone I ‘met’ yesterday through a comment on this blog (hello Beth) and a complete stranger (hello Nancy). I know that what I’m doing is refining my own understanding of all this stuff and at the same time building potential relationships with others. Both those things makes sense to me and I also believe they may have some economic value. Podcasting also makes sense to me because i see talking as the most direct way to share ideas. But for loads of us this all seems nonsensical. Where are the tangibles?
- Alphabet Tech Support This idea is entirely thanks to Megan at the NCVO ICT Foresight team who sent a group of us this quote from last week’s Guardian: “Technology,” a sage once observed, “is stuff that doesn’t work yet.” That sounds like a joke, and it is, but it is also a crucial truth about what technology is and does: we perceive something to be technology only when it is still new and, like most new things, not quite working the way it’s supposed to. Nobody thinks that the wheel is technology, though it’s as important a piece of technology as humanity has ever invented; the book is an unimprovable masterpiece of technology, and relies on another, arguably the most consequential piece of technology there has ever been, the alphabet. But because you don’t often find yourself waiting 45 minutes on a helpline trying to connect to Alphabet Technical Support in Bangalore, you probably don’t think of the alphabet as a piece of technology. It is when people stop thinking of something as a piece of technology that the thing starts to have its biggest impact.’ This overlaps with the Unh? factor in the sense that people have to be confident that online networks and communities really will help them get their work done. Until that time how do you get them to even dabble? The driver for that may be fun – leisure time – and the tools that are already shaping this are the likes of YouTube, myspace and even ebay.
One last thing you’ll notice here is that everything I’ve said I’ve lifted from someone else. The most creative thing I’ve done (if any) is put them together. Now, I enjoy communicating on a stage as big as the web (or as tiny as this webspace), but millions just don’t. For them this process is at best vanity – at worst plain ‘stoopid’.
Afterthought. I just spotted this from a happiness at work consultant who asked his blog audience if they would like to evaluate his forthcoming book… 12 hours later 40 had signed up to help. “This is why I blog” he says.