Posted on August 4, 2008
Twitter is growing on me
Ryan Sholin inspired this post with his Five Ways to Gather and Report News with Twitter.
Rogers’s famous adoption of innovations chart shows that any new technology, invention, etc., is first put to use (adopted) by a very small group of people. Rogers called them the innovators. The next group to adopt the new thing is slightly larger; Rogers called them the early adopters. Quite a lot of new things are picked up and played with by people who are innovators, and many of those things never catch on. So, seeing the new gadget your friend “the innovator” is playing with today does not necessarily mean you are seeing something that will catch on with a big audience.
When the early adopters start buying in — that’s the time to start watching more closely.
I think maybe Twitter is there.
When 10 to 20 percent of a given population have adopted a new technology, its user base reaches critical mass, according to Rogers. (This idea is also discussed in the recent book The Tipping Point.) Getting to that point might take a long time, but afterward, the rate of adoption shoots up and becomes very rapid. The majority of the population (the next 60 to 70 percent) will jump onto the bandwagon quickly. (This is illustrated in Rogers’s S-curve diagram.)
Keep in mind that “a given population” doesn’t mean everyone in the world, or everyone in North America — or even every person who uses the Internet. But within the population of, shall we say, English-speaking heavy users of online information, Twitter could be at 10 percent already.
I’m not an innovator, most of the time. I’m often an early adopter, especially with information technology. So, for example, I didn’t buy an iPhone a year ago, but I bought an iPhone 2.0 this summer. I signed onto Twitter some time ago, after a lot of people online were crowing about it, but I didn’t use it much. Didn’t see the point.
Then I put Twitterific on my new iPhone. Now I look at Twitter randomly, anywhere. I see New York Times headlines, NPR politics headlines, BBC headlines — with links to the full story. Click if it’s interesting. Ping — there it is, news in the palm of your hand.
Now, headlines in real time is an easy concept to grasp, but Ryan’s post goes beyond that and shows us how journalists can use Twitter as a tool. I wouldn’t be so jazzed about this, perhaps, if I hadn’t just spent 10 days traveling with no access to the Internet except via my iPhone. I checked Twitter a lot just because the app (Twitterific) makes it fast and easy, and I get to see all kinds of random chatter from journalists such as Ryan, Pat Thornton, Steve Yelvington, and Dave Cohn.
Are you using Twitter a lot? A little? Too much? Or not at all?
Related: Dave Winer wrote about alternatives to Twitter (Aug. 3).