Early adopters

I often hear repeated the assertion that early adopters specifically want to be on the cutting edge, that they draw much of their delight from technology from being an early adopter in and of itself.

(I was prompted to write this after noticing it in this excellent piece on the end of trickle-down in technology adoption – which is rightly being recommended by basically everyone online – but I’m not singling it out in particular. It’s great. Read it. Like, after this.)

I wonder: how true is it? How true is it that one of the driving factors for early adopters is only and in the abstract that they want to be on the cutting edge? I’m sure it plays a part – the bragging rights, the attention it brings and the way your opinion has currency and heft because you actually have the thing that everyone’s talking and curious about – and I recognise some of that in me. I’m an early adopter, to be sure, though possibly more on the ‘visionary’ slice of the graph linked to above rather than ‘technology enthusiast’.

For me, though, having new technology early isn’t about the mere act of having it early – I buy or review because I’m excited about it and more importantly it’s because I’m curious to see for myself what this new tech is, how it fits into my life and how it might fit into the lives of others.

Perhaps, though, I’m just conflating the ‘tech enthusiasts’ and ‘visionaries’ slices of Moore’s chart into a broad ‘early adopter’; it certainly seems so if you stick closely to his definitions. In other words, I might call myself an early adopter, but I’m not the kind of hardcore early early adopter who prizes adopting early above or at least equal to the tech that’s being adopted. If true, though, I don’t know any of these ‘tech enthusiasts’ who conform to Moore’s definition, neither in meat space or cyber space. Do you?