Twitter Me This

While reading Everett Rogers’ chapter on the Innovation-Decision Process from Diffusion of Innovations, I wanted to see if his model of technology adoption worked against my own experiences. Specifically, I applied his concepts to my initial use of Twitter. I found this, then new, service to be rather divisive in my family and circle of friends. For the converted, it represented a communication evolution that started with email, progressed (or maybe declined?) with text messaging, and hit its stride with status updates on Facebook.  I wasn’t so sure.

After signing up for Facebook in early 2008, I immediately saw status updates as cries for attention from most of my friends.  Some used them as repositories for their mental diarrhea.  Others likened them to a soapbox that they could use to opine on political or economic issues.  Either way, skipping my “news” feed never felt like I was missing much.  Then I learned about a new service that took, in my opinion, the worst aspect of Facebook and made that its Raison d’être.

I first gained awareness knowledge of Twitter when Ashton Kutcher became its first user with one million followers.  To follow Rogers’ five stages of the innovation-decision process, I think that same moment also represented my persuasion stage.  As Rogers states, I considered  how I might apply this new idea to my present or anticipated future before deciding whether or not to try it. [1]  After a bit more scrutiny, I realized that this technology was not for me.  I’m not sure what it was, because I really don’t have any animosity for Mr. Kutcher.  But the media attention he and the service received made wary of this “innovation.”  Friends who embraced Twitter gave me more insight.  Some used it as a rather unwieldy sort of RSS feed on topics that interested them, others exclusively followed celebrities, and a few just linked it to their Facebook accounts for the sake of ubiquity.

I made my decision.  I would not be joining the Twitter revolution.  The more popular it got, the deeper I dug my heels in.  Mine was a Passive Rejection – I simply chose to ignore this new communications technology without so much as a visit to its website.

But, we cannot predict the future, so I had no way of knowing that an intervening social necessity would require my adoption of this pervasive micro-blogging service.  After accepting entry to the MCDM program, I read through the list if requirements for new students.  Right at the top of that list was a Twitter account.  My stand against Twitter was about to end.  At this point I had to start my innovation-decision process over again.  I revisited the awareness knowledge stage because if I had to use Twitter, I needed to figure out the intricacies of the medium such as hash tags, URL shorteners, and the social implications of following and retweeting.

So, I created a username (a marathon training motivator – GoRun26) and posted my first tweet, “About to run 6 in the rain.”  No one read it, so I was off to an inauspicious start. But, I had reached the implementation stage of my process – I put Twitter to use.  It took eight months before someone retweeted something that I had posted.  I believe that this acknowledgement that I had contributed value to someone else marked the confirmation stage of my Twitter adoption.  Positive feedback made me recognize that this technology could be a viable way for me to communicate.

Truly embracing Twitter will take more time.  I still don’t check it frequently and have missed time-sensitive tweets from friends and my MCDM cohorts on occasion that I would have responded to in a more timely manner had they emailed.  But as more people around me use it as a primary method of communication, I will have little choice but to follow suit.

Questions
1. What makes Twitter a viable alternative to email?  When is it appropriate/inappropriate?
2. Can Rogers’ five stages of the innovation-decision process be followed out-of-order?  Why or why not?
3. Would Twitter be considered a re-invention of texting or status updates?  Could this newer technology make adoption of older ones easier for those lagging in the use of modern communications?

Notes
[1] Rogers, E.M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations. New York: Free Press.

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3 Responses to Twitter Me This

  1. Pingback: week 4 – Frameworks and Theories: Diffusion and Adoption « COM546 : Evolutions

  2. Pingback: week 4 – Frameworks and Theories: Diffusion and Adoption « COM546 : Evolutions

  3. Josh — I’m re-reading everyone’s posts … thanks for being one of the few who read/wrote about Rogers. 🙂

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