Techies and near-techies have always been early on the uptake with new software and hardware, but the difference today is the speed and influence of the digerati. Seth Godin points out in a post called The New Digital Divide that weblogs and other tools have given geeks immediacy and clout that they didn't have before.
Based on my experience with a few online commmunities, I have to agree. The Flickrites I know who ran Yahoo 360 thorough its paces during its first 48 hours of beta used the new tool the way a golf pro tries out a new five iron. Overnight they had created new blogs, populated the photo album, and tested its limits. These folks are adept at exploring the new opportunities for sharing information. They are experts at things before the mainstream even knows they exist.
"Today . . . the Net is far more robust and far more ubiquitous than it used to be. And it's bloggers who are setting the agenda on everything from politics to culture. It's bloggers that journalists and politicians look to as the first and the loudest.
"As a result, your most-connected, most influential customers are part of the digerati. They can make or break your product, your service or even your religion's new policies. Because the Net is now a broadcast (and a narrowcast) medium, the digerati can spread ideas.
"The second thing to keep in mind is that the digerati are using the learning tools built into the Net to get smarter, faster. A new Net tool can propogate to millions in just a week or two. Unlike the old digital divide, this means that the divide between the digerati and the rest of the world is accelerating.
"So, it's choice time. Several of my colleagues (tompeters! being a notable example) are jumping in with both feet. Others take a look at the headstart and decide that it's just too much work."
I don't have the time or energy to try every nifty new gadget that gets added to the digital arsenal. But when I take a pass on something, it's with the understanding that I may be just a bit less in tune with the zeitgeist than I would be otherwise.