The progress of technology needs a full spectrum of adoption to work well. From early adopters who jump in before kinks and warts have been banished, to a late majority who bring scale to the now-safe choice.
If we didn’t have any early adopters ironing out the kinks, there’d never be a now-safe choice for the late majority. And if everyone always jumped on the latest thing on day one, society would waste needless cycles churning through the broken glass of beta software.
But usually people see things a little narrower. They’ve picked a group to belong to, and along with it the story that serves it just. I find that a constant and fascinating example of how we’ll all tell ourselves what we need to hear to feel good about our choices.
In most cases, for example, I like to be an early adopter. Take getting the first version of the Macbook Air, while many fretted about and scorned it for too few ports or not enough speed. I accepted the shortcomings by telling myself that this is ultimately The Future, and I want to be among the pioneers that drags us there, even if it’s a bumpy ride across the frontier.
Further, that if everyone wanted to wait until all the bugs were squashed, the bugs would never be found in the first place, and thus never squashed. See, isn’t that a lovely altruistic cover story for what could just as well be labeled as technological ADD, and just wanting the latest thing BECAUSE?
Same deal works on the other end. There are all these great stories available about how you’re being prudent by waiting to take the plunge on a new product, such that you don’t waste money or resources before the inevitable version 2 or 3. A story filled with the virtue of restraint: An ability to resist the draw of SHINY NEW THINGS.
What’s great is that all these stories can be true at the same time, even if they’re individually in conflict. I can even feel good about a chosen story for my current choice, and then swap to the opposite story for my next choice. Self-deception is grand.