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069: Tech Epochs (II)

Two frameworks for technological change.

Jeremy Finch
Jeremy Finch
3 min read
069: Tech Epochs (II)

Growing up, our early computers were slow, huge, and boxy.

Dial-up internet ran through the phone line.

And "software" was delivered in physical boxes by mail, installed via giant disks.

How fast things change!

Two frameworks

Maybe you've seen this hype cycle graphic before?

It's a model for how new technologies (often) get adopted:

1. A spark of early promise and potential
2. A frothy peak of overblown expectations
3. An inevitable "trough of disillusionment"
4. Eventually, a more realistic equilibrium

Many have attempted to explain how new tools and ideas spread from a handful of intrepid early adopters to the more risk-averse, slow-moving majority.

See: Diffusion of Innovations, or Crossing the Chasm.

I wonder:

How do innovations move from small, overlooked niches to become accepted mainstream "norms"?

When have you been an early vs. late adopter? What made the difference?

Why do some things drift quickly towards obsolescence, while others remain timeless, relevant, and evergreen?

Thanks for your replies :

071: Reader Mailbag (VII)
Reader reactions to “Tech Epochs”.

Here's Part I, ICYMI :

068: Tech Epochs (I)
A theory of tech cycles, by Douglas Adams.

Related :

093: Paleolithic Emotions
A simple (powerful) paradox.
045: Different Scales
What are the smallest / largest things?
087: Evergreen Skills (Takeaways)
On timeless skills and knowledge.
004: Battlestar Galactica
A deep-dive into a sci-fi TV show.

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