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We have come full circle this week, back to an idea first covered last year during spring institute 2011. Thank you to Charles Kadushin for discussing a theory of communication that I actually understood last year without wanting to tear my hair out. That ladies and gents is the theory of diffusion. More to the point, in chapter 9 of Understanding Social Networks, Kadushin links diffusion to the ability of people to influence one another.

As Kadushin explains, those who are considered leaders usually are the ones that others look to and listen to when there is diffusion of a new idea. However, that does not mean that leaders are the innovators or the early adopters. In fact, leaders tend follow the norm. Quite often it is those out in the periphery that take on new ideas first and through brokers or bridgers their unconventional ideas are spread out from the leaders and to late adopters.

This made me consider my place in the cohort in terms of adoption of these social media tools. I was personally always on the fence about Twitter and LinkedIn, not because I didn’t see that they could have a purpose, but I felt like I was putting myself out in the public too much. I didn’t mind Facebook though. I set my privacy so that I couldn’t be publically searched and I was able to connect with friends far and wide.

Then during last year’s cohort, I found myself sitting there, looking around and realizing how behind the times I was. Not just because of social media (I kept telling myself that I needed to get in the loop and sign up for Twitter), but because of the physical tools I had at my disposal. Everyone had a laptop or a smartphone and there was me with my trusty, almost three year old talk-only phone. I vowed that when my cellphone contract was up in June that I was trading in for a shiny new data-capable phone.

Fast forward to today and I’m about to celebrate my one year anniversary with my smartphone and everything that it encompasses. Mostly that means the inability to stop checking my e-mail. But, now in addition to that, I went from almost 0 to hero with respect to social media usage, all due to COMM506.

While I am still learning the ins and outs of blogging, Twitter and curating my LinkedIn profile, I am honestly amazed at how quickly I and others in my cohort have picked everything up. Does it take a long time to talk us into something? For some of us, it sure does. But, when we embrace something, we seem to do it wholeheartedly.

So, late adopter, yes. Black sheep, nope.