Adoption and Abandonment of Tools and Ideas

Jason’s post discussing economist Lant Pritchett’s thoughts on how people perceive ‘game-changing ideas’ over time

Crazy. Crazy. Crazy. Obvious.

Or, more eloquently:

Silly, controversial, progressive, then obvious.

reminded me of research on the rise and fall of an item’s popularity that found the fall mirrored the rise.

According to the results, the quicker a cultural item rockets to popularity, the quicker it dies. This pattern occurs because people believe that items that are adopted quickly will become fads, leading them to avoid these items, thus causing these items to die out.

And how did the researchers investigate these cultural ‘taste changes’ over time? By analysing the rise and fall in popularity of different baby names over the past 100 years, of course (“because there is less of an influence of technology or advertising on name choice, baby names provide a way to study how adoption depends on primarily internal factors”).

This also reminds me of Peter Feld’s First Law of Metatwitter:

The more a platform is used to talk about itself, the greater the barriers to its adoption beyond its core users.



One response to “Adoption and Abandonment of Tools and Ideas”

  1. And Schopenhauer’s dictum on truth: All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.