The faster a fad rises in pop-cultural consciousness, the faster it falls in the popularity ratings. Thus says a recent study that surmises that “people believe that items that are adopted quickly will become fads, leading them to avoid these items, thus causing these items to die out”. Weird, uh?
Besides baby names, the symmetry between popularity rise and fall can carry over to other cultural items. For example, the scientists noted that similar outcomes have been observed in the music industry, where new artists who shoot to the top of the charts right away also fall quickly, and so have lower overall sales than those who rise more slowly. While this finding seems counterintuitive, since a quick rise in popularity would seem like a good thing, it shows that a backlash to perceived fads should be taken into account. As the researchers explain, people who want to ensure the persistence and success of particular items should seek to popularize the items at a slow but steady pace.
I’ve read a bunch of articles in the recent past, that talked about users’ disillusionment with Twitter after signing up en masse, thanks to (maybe) Oprah. But my experience has more closely mimicked that of TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld who explains Twitter’s adoption curve thus:
Ever-increasing waves of hype, links, and attention bring in the newbies to Twitter.com where they get their first taste of Twitterdom. Some portion of those set up an account out of curiosity or a fear of being left behind. They try sending out a few Tweets, look around, get bored by the initial banality of the service and abandon it for other pursuits.
But that is not the end of it. A lot of them come back, either because they keep getting links from friends or keep hearing about it on TV or whatever, and then they slowly start to see the usefulness—a funny Tweet from a friend, a link to breaking news, a way to keep an eye on the general zeitgeist. Twitter is the kind of thing that is easier to experience than it is to explain. But it is an acquired taste and often requires repeated exposure before people get hooked. Once they do get hooked, there is no going back.
p.s. And if you’re wondering what the chart above means, read the entire article here. (via Rex)