Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/Diffusion of Innovation and Adopters

Diffusion of Innovation is a model that has been successfully used in a variety of disparate disciplines. As Rogers states that the flexible nature of the Diffusion of innovation has resulted in a general diffusion model. The power of Diffusion of Innovation is how in can be applied and layered not only within a traditional social structures but online social structures as well. Originally this theory hypothesized how hybrid corn seeds were adopted. The resulting knowledge of this theory was defining the social structure within a particular user group and how adoption happens. Moreover, Rogers discusses how the diffusion theory was used in the prevention of AIDS. Originally, the research was retrospective to determine and define the social order of adoption but the small group strategy of AIDS prevention was able to educate and turn attendees into innovators and early adopters.

The power of this model is the ability to essentially understand the necessity for adoption and build the model into products by leveraging online community sociability and the online ecosystem. Over the past 10 years there have been several websites and mobile apps that have built the social structure into the app on top of the traditional social dissemination of information.

At it's core, Digg was a news site but also epitomized the burgeoning web 2.0 paradigm. As innovators, Digg founders we able to build a community that allowed users to promote (Digg) or bury news stories. As more users clicked on the link the story was promoted and the user who originally posted the story would be seen as an innovator and have a following because they were building a reputation.

This is not unlike Foursquare’s badging that users would get as they checked into different shops. As users raced to become mayor of a location, an argument could be made that the number of check-ins a person had for a location was similar to the category of adopters: innovator, early adopter, early majority, late majority, laggards.

These and other products proved that there was an advantage to using the service. In fact, the behavior was compatible with offline behavior. People read articles or went to stores. The innovation afforded users a way to share and extend and in some cases manufacture their social status. When a friend saw their post on Facebook that they checked into a coffee shop and was awarded a badge, friends gained knowledge of Foursquare and were persuaded to join and participate. The cycle of diffusion would then continue to the new users’ set of friends and persuade them to adopt. This doesn’t mean that there will be 100% diffusion. Products will fall out of favor regardless how many people signed up and used the product.