Thursday, August 2, 2007

the little prince

The diffusion theory here comes from the German sociologist Simmel. This says that adoption runs like a pig through a python. The earliest adopters take hold of the pig and then three things happen.

1) The later adopters go, "Pig! Yes, please. Now that I know about it, and now that it has been approved by my betters, I would very much like some pig."

2) The early adopters go, "Oh, please. Now that our lessers are consuming pig, we're not interested" and they bail out.

3) Eventually, the later adopters notice that the early adopters have bailed, and they bail, too.

Thus does a bump run through the python. As each later group adopts, each previous group repudiates. (Of course there are always extenuating circumstances. Adoption is also decided by the value created by competing parties. Simmel's theory accounts only for the effects of admiration and imitation.)

Now, the marketing community is keenly interested in buzz, word of mouth and the tipping point. But many marketers seem to believe you get to keep the early adopters. They act as if the python keeps filling up from one end to the other. In their view, apparently, the adoption process is not a running bump. It's a filling up.

THIS SITE SITS at the Intersection of Anthropology and Economics on Google

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