Preliminary Thoughts on Google Buzz and The Diffusion of Innovations Model

After a while of just posting about Dubai, I thought I’d comment on something of interest other than my recent travels in the Middle East. With the new launch of Google Buzz, I thought this would be a good time to blog about social media. In specific I’d like to outline a new model I learned about and using the example of Google Buzz I’d like to comment on the diffusion of new media technologies.

The diffusion of innovations model tries to outline and understand how new innovations permeate society and become efficacious tools for people to use. Although its origins stem from health promotion I think it can readily be applied to new technology and society, including new media technologies.

The three main components of this model are as follows (in parenthesis will be how I believe these models apply, at first glance, to something like Google Buzz)

1. Characteristics of the innovation

a. Relative advantage (I think the fact that Buzz uses a highly utilized platform such as Gmail as its base provides an advantage)

b. Compatibility (Google users are usually interested in aggregating their internet use, heck there’s even a complete OS being developed for Google users)

c. Complexity (this seems to be a bit of a contentious point so far, although I think with feedback and some time, people will be able to use Buzz seamlessly)

d. Triability (I think some early Twitter users fall off the board when they fail to realize its utility as a micro-blogging tool, rather than a life-caster, which could be something Buzz users might fall prey to)

2. The Diffusion Process (this is referring to the actual launch and dissemination of Buzz)

3. The adopters

a. Innovators (Google developers, people with high ranking Google accounts and relationships)

b. Early adopters (Google users with wide-spread and meaningful social relationships online, who use Buzz effectively)

c. Early majority adopters (moving more towards lighter users but still those with some social capitol to capitalize)

d. Late majority adopters (still moving down the line of user status, but still among those who are somewhat engaged)

e. Laggards (people who will not use Buzz at all, or expend any social capitol to let Buzz take off)

Overall, I think Buzz is a worthwhile operation for Google. I know I myself, and my close friends have tried to find a way to share content in the most meaningful yet most comfortable way. So far it has been restrictive, whether through StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader or Google-Wave or Gmail conversations. Perhaps Google Buzz will strike that golden balance and have a seamless transition into my internet usage habits. For now, I look forward to entrusting more of my life in Google’s hands.