There’s nonsense, a great book and a terrific video here

It was a lovely day. Fine blue skies, no ceiling to be found. It is a standout day, standing out. Gray yesterday. Grayer tomorrow. Sometimes it is difficult to enjoy the one for thinking of the other.

But that’s not a problem today. It’s too bright and blue for that. And warm. Hot, even. The heat index flirted with 105 today. A good day to enjoy the sun from the shade, or indoors.


Sorry, I was cleaning some schmutz from my keyboard. The near symmetry almost suggests a meaning. Almost as much as any other meaning here. Perhaps more! Maybe I should really highlight it.


You’re right. That’s too much.

Anyway, nothing to it. Welcomed a new person to the office. Watched construction work beginning outside of the building. Ate a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. With pretzel bites!

Probably explains the schmutz.

I also brought two more books to the office. One of them is a volume on First Amendment research, rounding out my collection. The other is the famous Communication of Innovations book, Everett Rogers’ second edition from 1971. He made an entire career on this, and its supporting work, and it’s brilliant. But I might be biased. I had one of his students as a professor in graduate school, and his work comes up all the time because of how it resonates in these fast-moving times.

“An important factor affecting the adoption rate of any innovation is its compatibility with the cultural beliefs of the social system.”

This is a line from the fifth page, explaining why a two-year public health campaign failed in one particular Peruvian village. The effort focused on installing pit latrines, burning garbage, controlling insects and boiling drinking water. In most villages, the public health workers got 15 to 20 percent of the housewives to boil water. Rogers notes that, in Los Molinos, a village of about 200 families, only five percent made the innovation.

In Los Molinos, tradition links hot food with illness. Boiling water was appropriate only for the sick, and a person who is not ill wouldn’t drink the water because of the cultural norms. And Rogers further breaks it down, as a sociologist should.

Two pages later, he dives into social change as “the process by which alteration occurs in the structure and function of a social system.” And, in four more pages, as a footnote, he describes development as “a type of social change in which new ideas are introduced into a social system in order to produce higher per capita incomes and levels of living through more modern production methods and improved social organization. Development is modernization at the social system level.”

Soon after, he gets into innovation, “an idea, practice, or object perceived as new by an individual. It matters little, so far as human behavior is concerned, whether or not an idea is ‘objectively’ new as measured by the lapse of time since its first use or discovery. It is the perceived or subjective newness of the idea for the individual that determines his reaction to it. If the idea seems new to the individual, it is an innovation … The ‘newness’ aspect of an innovation may be expressed in knowledge, in attitude, or regarding a decision to use it.”

In the fifth chapter, “Adopter Categories,” we get the famous graphic.

Nobody ever made a better bell curve.

Classroom flashbacks are a lovely thing.

And if that’s not your speed, there’s this great package from Vice. Dexter Thomas went on a ride with Erick Cedeño as he follows in the pedal strokes of the Buffalo Soldiers, the 25th Infantry Regiment Bicycle Corps who took a 1,900-mile journey from Montana to Missouri in 1897.

It took them 41 days, going over mountains and through forests and deserts and rivers. They pedaled and pushed their bikes across dirt trails, and railroad tracks, covering about 50 miles a day through all sorts of weather. The iron riders, as they came to be known, crossed five states and the Continental Divide, making national headlines. This was no small effort, and it came with a lot of baggage — in both senses. Thomas and Cedeño talk about all of that. It’s a really nice package over an incredible effort, in a unique moment in American history.

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