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Early Adopter Burnout. My Light Bulb Moment

AHA! I thought to myself, as I was cleaning up an .xlsx file that contained 5,000+ rows of government information. Thank heavens for #opendata.  My aha moment stemmed from a pestering feeling deep inside that I couldn’t for the life of me, put a finger on, until yesterday. I had contracted early adopter burnout over six years ago.

EARLY ADOPTER BURNOUT

That was the aha moment. It explained so much. And yet, the realization was quite sad. To think that I had dropped off the face of the *whatever tech* scene only to find myself in a Toon-town of sorts, rapidly becoming “plant lady is the new cat lady”.

It’s pathetic. I should just 3D print my own urn right now. What should the placard or inscription say? I wonder. But that wonder didn’t last for long because my mind is still brutally cynical, as it is sharp.

She was tired of waiting for the future to catch up to her.

I’ll admit. It wasn’t easy telling people back in the early ’80s that Apple Computers would be in everyone’s homes. By everyone, I meant North America and parts of Europe and Asia and such (pardon me for leaving out other continents, but yeah). Back then, no one even knew that a digital divide existed until the early 90s or thereabouts and by “in everyone’s homes” that statement isn’t true today, however …

THE 90s

Fast forward to the early 90s when the Super Information Highway (that was another name for the internet, for those of you that have never heard of the term before) was unleashed to the select few.

One day we’ll be able to work from anywhere!

… said no one else around me, but me. Yes, I know we only had dial-up and AOL hadn’t come to Canada yet from Virginia HQ, I believe. I’m not even going to Google that. But it was obvious to me that this thing called the World Wide Web would allow people to work from anywhere. Ever since then, it had been my goal. I ticked off that checkbox a decade ago. It took eleven years to get there, but I did it and I’m still doing it now.

THE 2000S

Then in 2000/2001 I bought a Compaq iPaq 3630. I was a nurse back then and I’d use to keep notes. There was only one other doctor that had one – a surgeon. We would commune by the nurses station, pull out our shiny new thing and pretty much showed off. The other doctors, nurses, etc .. would come by and ask what it was.

I told the docs,

One day you’ll be getting real time EKG reads or viewing MRI scans from these.

I told them that the money would be in the programs that would perform these tasks. I told them that if that ever happened, they should invest money on it. They looked at me like I was crazy. “Oh Carmen. You think way too much.”

Yeeaaaahh .. okay doc. The term “app” and “startup” wasn’t widely used back then. At least I don’t think so.

MY SECOND LIFE

In 2005, I joined Second Life. The immersive experience was incredible and the virtual world platform opened up ideas upon ideas. Many in SL made money creating animations with Linden Lab’s scripting language. SL definitely had an economy that was thriving. The human behind the avatar Anshe Chung made history by being the first virtual millionaire. She literally made 1 million U.S. dollars selling virtual land. I had purchased 5 parcels from her, running 2 condo units, 1 art gallery, 1 music by the art park, and 1 parcel for a cafe. The currency we used to exchange for goods and services was the Linden Dollar (L$)). We could exchange the Linden Dollar into U.S. dollars via PayPal. I made $400+ U.S. in 6 hrs, creating a 3D office building for a Japanese company.

In 2007, I moved to Germany in the hopes of living out a more tech life. Boy did I ever. My boyfriend at the time (who I met in SL), created a virtual currency for education. He was ahead of his time. It was like meeting the male version of me, from a futurist stance.

Second Life was my first intro into a virtual reality type of experience. Trust me, things pretty much seemed IRL (in real life), other than smell, touch, and taste. As for virtual currency – yes and yes. I conducted English classes in SL and ran an artist community. Real life artists that would upload digital images of their real life work, and hang them in my art gallery for a weekly fee in L$. This currency experience convinced me that some form of virtual currency was in the future. 4 years later, bitcoin was released as open source software. I remembered reading about it on my Nokia N95 while sitting in an outside cafe. BF and I talked about it for a bit. We said that it would take a few more years to catch on, and a few more years for mainstream to accept its existence. We knew we weren’t going to hold our breaths. Time was marching, and our brains were already processing the next obvious thing.

3D PRINTING CAFE – WHAT?!

In 2009, both of us and another partner, let’s call him @_zero, approached 4D Concepts to pitch them the idea of creating a 3D Printing Cafe. @_zero had written a script to export the objects that were created in SL via their build tools into a format for 3D printing. 4D Concepts didn’t bite. I think we approached several other entities. Nada. Then I went to Euromold that same year to meet Terry Wohlers to pick his brain and ask why we were having such a hard time getting people to believe that a 3D printing cafe was the future. He said that it’d take some time. He said that he wouldn’t be surprised if it took another 10 years for people to realize the feasibility. I saw @_zero in Barcelona in 2015 for Mobile World Congress. He said, “Guess what? Frankfurt now has a 3D printing cafe … across the street from my building.”

We laughed.

2009 was also the year when I jumped on the Android bandwagon and created cartoons to make the devs laugh. It worked. I got invited to the first ever Android conference called droidcon in Berlin. The rest was history.

Each situation that I had encountered from 1986 – 2009 were frustrating as heaven. Never mind all the beta testing I did –  2004 Plazes  (think Foursquare), 2008 Qik mobile video (think 2009 LiveStream) and 2009 Waze and numerous other internet and mobile apps. Where are they today, I wonder. A few got acquired, some merged never again to be seen, and others just drifted away to startup purgatory, whose soul would soon be snatched up by another startup and this time, chaching. There’s nothing worse than a startup that’s ahead of their time.

So where is this all leading to?

Diagnosis: Early Adopter Burnout.

What about my AHA moment?

I realized that some early adopters (I’m thinking now that it could just be me) burnout then fall out of existence. Check my twitter feed after 2009. It had started to decline in 2010, then started a downward trajectory in 2012’ish with peaks and valleys.

But wait? What about cryptocurrencies, ar, vr, self driving cars, IoT (we really need to drop the IoT (Internet of Things) or at least add the “A”. We really need to start calling it AIoT (artificial intelligence of things) pullllease!

BLOCKCHAIN. OH MY!

None of those things in the paragraph prior to this, excites me, much. Maybe blockchain. I didn’t see that coming. Yeah, blockchain is pretty cool. But everything else is ho hum ho hum. I’m just saying that now. Remember, I’m in burnout mode so that statement you just read is formed from an opinion of someone that’s in early adopter burnout mode.  I do realize that this state I’ve been in now puts me in the category of the tale end of a late adopter.

I like that mainstream has finally caught on to the things I’ve been touting just under a decade ago, or at least there’s a wave of mainstreamers who feel that if they start tweeting, and posting on medium, LinkedIN, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Vimeo, Snapchat Patreon and so on, that they’d be able to brand themselves as an online influencer. I know I’ve left out some platforms but that’s because I haven’t been keeping up. Because, you know. #Burnout. Early adopter burnout is something that mainstreamers may never really contract, despite their needing to “unplug” and make a huge announcement about it on Facebook.

And what’s up with the twitter follower to following stats ratio? And the crazy Instagram follow to following ratio? Are people still paying for followers? Thank goodness Twitter ceased to integrate Klout.

I just checked my KLOUT score. 41. In social media stat terms, that  = dead. I’ve never been a believer of these scoring algorithms, but they’re valuable to some entities and people, just saying.

Anyway, the real nugget to my AHA moment is the fact that the way I see it, I’m just waiting for the future to catch up to me.

I’ll rise from the dead when it does. It may be sooner than later. If you’re an early adopter, watch out. You could be next.

Feel free to follow me on twitter if you’d like or send me a message.

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