Metavalent Stigmergy

How New Default Consensus Realities Instantiate

Are Scientists the Biggest Laggards?

0It wouldn’t be the first time. I remember being virtually laughed out of the room at Xerox PARC in 1997 for insisting that what would come to be called the Ethernet First Mile needed to be built immediately; that broadband, and beyond, were absolutely vital to the advancement of the internet.

Don’t get me wrong, “some of my best friends are scientists,” but it’s been periodically astounding to me to find that the scientific dogma of “it won’t work, it’s not feasible” is often functionally equivalent to the religious dogma of “it’s evil, it’s from the devil.” Both statements were applied by many members of the respective groups when it came to evolution of the internet. “9600 bps will be more than sufficient for any residential user into the foreseeable future,” that was the consensus comment that got all the PARC heads nodding, hemming, and hawing. So, for whatever “foreseeable future” meant in late 1997, we were to accept 9600bps according to the Brilliant Brain Trust at PARC.

Recently, since “June 2006, for about 3 months, Nature [has been] undertaking a trial of [an open, online] peer review. This trial [continues] in parallel with the usual peer review process, and allow[s] the editors to assess the value of soliciting comments from scientists while submitted papers are being peer reviewed. The trial is to test the quality of unsolicited [blog style] comments made during an open peer review process, against the traditional process with no unsolicited comments.”

So far, virtually no takers. Am I the only one to find this laggard adoption behavior – among what large portion of the public widely considers knowledgeable trend leaders – interesting? I wonder if anyone has ever mapped technology adoption cycles to various vocational tribes? Sounds like another job for Metacrawler or the Rollyo Rollbar. Lots of other work to do today, so you’ll have to forgive if I don’t follow through and leave the exploration as an exercise for the reader. :)

Written on August 13, 2006