Ofcom says that, as a nation, we’re early adopters. Not only do we rush out to buy the latest smartphone, we’re also prolific mobile social networkers. And I think that means we’re ahead of the curve in life.
What makes a nation prosperous? Free health care, free press, open democracy? All of these things help, and we’re lucky to have them, but it’s increasingly about technology.
Our ability to use and develop new tech ensures that this little island remains relevant in the wider world. That’s why being an early adopter is a very good thing.
Benefits outweigh the risks
As Sarah Kidner points out in her Conversation, being an early adopter isn’t without its risks. Initial costs can be high and some products might not work perfectly from the get go. But the benefits of new, innovative and useful tech definitely outweigh their risks.
My day is infinitely more enriched thanks to my smartphone. Instead of reading the heavily advertised gossip columns of the Metro, my hour long commute is spent browsing the web, catching up with friends on Facebook and getting small trivial tasks out the way.
It means that, when the trains are up the spout and there’s lots of time to kill, it’s not wasted complaining and bemoaning my luck – it’s spent catching up on the day’s events, or even reading a book.
The success of the iPad, which has been remarkably untroubled thus far, goes to prove what a powerful and useful ability ‘being connected’ really is. And it’s great to hear that the UK is ahead of the rest of Europe in adopting and embracing new tech – it shows we’re brave, adventurous, and prepared for change.
It’s more than just ‘new and shiny’
It’s also important to remember that early adoption isn’t just a fetish or another way to say “look at me”. Early adoption is really about identifying what’s useful in new tech and how it can make our lives easier – it needn’t mean jumping on the 3D TV or Blu-ray bandwagon.
Our appetite for on-demand video, such as BBC iPlayer, is a great example. We love these services because they’re useful, not because they make us feel clever or special. If YouView, the on-demand TV service due to launch next year, delivers on its promise, I fully expect the UK to embrace it with open arms.
Ultimately, though, our appetite for new technology gives us the upper hand in many walks of life. It helps get the jobs other people don’t, offers new perspectives on difficult problems, and ensures we’re ready for a future dominated by technology. It might get bumpy from time to time, but at least being an early adopter is never boring.
Read Sarah Kidner’s opposing argument in ‘Early adopters pay high price for new technology‘.