Saturday, August 20, 2011

Jeff Buys A Gadget!!!

In E.M. Roger's now famous diffusion of innovation theory, adoption of a new product or practice takes the form of a bell shaped curve. This diffusion, as Roger's explains, is "the process in which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system...".

Rogers’ Innovation Diffusion Bell Curve
Note. From Rogers, E.M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations, New York: The Free Press.

Reading left to right, the curve consists of a sliver of innovators that make up just 2.5% of the population. Those are the people on the "bleeding edge" of innovation. They're followed by early adopters (13.5%), the early majority (34%), the late majority (34%), and laggards (16%).

While many people have quibbled over how accurate or meaningful Roger's curve is, it remains at least a recognized model for how we might begin to think about innovation and adoption. I bring it up today as a frame of reference regarding my place on the curve. While it's probably impossible to determine exactly where one lands in regards to each new innovation, the figure below represents about where I feel like I am.

Truth be told - and thinking now about my lack of smartphones, HDTVs, side air bags, tablets, Groupon accounts, QR code experiences, and Skype chats - I could probably push myself down the curve even further. I might very well be the last person in the late majority line! (I made the above illustration in MS Paint for crying out loud; poorly executed too, I might add.)

So, why does any of this matter? Well, because I bought a Barnes & Noble Nook. For those of you who might be further down the far side of the curve than me, the Nook is an ereader; that's an electronic device that let's users read electronic books (ebooks) . I originally purchased it out of a sense of professional obligation. I work in a library and we offer ebooks through our website. As the popularity of ereaders has increased, we've been fielding more and more questions about them. While I know it's not possible to become well-versed in every single ereader, I felt responsible for knowing how to use at least one of them. I chose the Nook because it's popular, it's compatible with our library's ebook collection, and the new touch screen version has been getting rave reviews (I know everything from the iPad to the Kobo reader has been dubbed "the Kindle Killer" at one time or another, but this might be the real thing).

Imagine my surprise then when the device I bought out of a sense of professional duty turned out to be the device I fell in love with. It really is a terrific little gadget. The interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. It syncs up easily with every wireless network I've asked it to. It's compact, easy to read, and works perfectly with my library's ebook service. Within half an hour of starting up my Nook I'd downloaded two books from my library and was off and reading. In addition to that, I can purchase books through Barnes & Noble anywhere there's a wireless connection.

My position on the Roger's curve should make it clear that I'm not the guy who's going to give a particularly tech savvy review of the Nook. I don't know resolutions, download rates, file types or any of the other nuts and bolts that make this thing tick. That said, I think my position on the curve speaks volumes in other ways. I'm the guy who doesn't have a smart phone, has never DVR'd a television program, hasn't participated in a video chat, and doesn't own a tablet. In spite of this pronounced lack of savvy, I think the Nook is a pretty handy gadget. It's got it's drawbacks sure (Why can't I delete books or files? Why can't I use the social share feature on free content? Why can't it support landscape view?) but overall I expect to get a lot of mileage out of my Nook.

Coming up next: Jeff buys a smartphone?

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