Diffusion of Innovation
If you’re reading about it on Twitter, it’s probably too late. How do innovations diffuse across the Internet?
Everett Rogers, a sociologist, is best known for his book, Diffusion of Innovation, which would become the basis for Clay Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma. Rogers was the first to categorize adopters into five classes based on their innovativeness — innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.
Identifying those groups is important, but a related question could also be interesting: Where do those groups share or get their information?
This is an important question for startup founders, investors, and anyone else that puts a premium on the freshest information (the information barbell).
Startups like WhatsApp, Mojang (Minecraft), and Oculus found their first users in niche forums before finding a wider audience. There seems to be a general pattern. But the pattern changes as user behavior changes (we’re not on ICQ anymore). There’s some level of causation that you can logically attest to (news aggregators cannot be the first source, by definition).
But here’s an attempt to capture the zeitgeist in 2023.
Code pushed to GitHub (and issue trackers for OSS)
Preprints of Research Papers
Email lists, niche forums
Reddit (for subreddits that are discussion-focused)
Niche Twitter, Niche Reddit
Patent applications (in software, these usually lag the actual innovation)
Industry News (e.g., TechCrunch, Independent Substack Writers)
Market Maps (Venture Capital)
Analyst Reports (e.g., Gartner, McKinsey, etc.)
App Store Rankings
Curriculum (College or High School)