And all the Slipsters fell down Moore’s Chasm…

You’ve probably seen this, or heard the terms it uses such as “early adopters” and “laggards”.
It’s the “Diffusion of Innovation Model” (picture credit: Natebailey via Wikipedia) which describes the adoption of technology over time. The diffusion model suggests innovation adoption follows a bell curve, and then segments that curve into a number of social groups about whom we can make some useful generalisations.

You may also be familiar with Moore’s Chasm, which builds upon this and suggests that adoption isn’t always a simple progression – there’s a gap, a tipping point where adoption of innovation would stop unless there is some change in the environment or culture that helps an innovation to become mainstream.

(picture credit: Adamfeuer via Wikipedia)

Both these models tend to be applied in very absolute terms that suggest that everyone gets on board by the end (I’m not sure that’s how the authors intended them to be used). We know of course that innovations and technologies never hit 100% of their possible users. We have the digital divide to contend with for starters.

There’s something else though that I’ve noticed over the years, and that’s people who see themselves as pioneers, natural early adopters, who refuse to engage with something because they come across it too late, just when it’s hitting an early majority and becoming mainstream. Even when the laggards are comfortably installed they still haven’t engaged because that’s so over. These are the folk who position themselves as innovators, dabblers, and experimenters. They might be trend spotters, influencers or cool hunters, and admitting they came to something late is bad karma for their frand.

These are the slipsters and they’ve fallen through Moore’s Chasm where they must wait for the next big thing.

Big thanks to Jon Bounds for coming up with “slipster” (a portmanteau of “slipped” and “hipster”) when I was stuck for a neologism yesterday.

By Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: