Laggards for change

tv by striatic
[Via : Crosscurrent]

Just like in the old TV series The Outer Limits, I am about to lose control of my television set. As a consequence of a government mandate to switch to digital broadcasting by Friday, June 12, my analog set is about to go blank. Like millions of others folks, I haven’t bothered to buy a converter box, a new digital TV, or subscribe to a cable or satellite provider. I’ve been warned for months, but each time I’ve ignored preparing for the inevitable. The talking heads explaining it all just seemed like one more infomercial. Click.

I’m technologically lazy too. I’ve never been able to get my rabbit ears to work very well, so I’ve just gotten used to fewer channels or watching the evening news through a blizzard of electronic snow. Buying and hooking up a converter seems like one chore too many. If the federal government wants to do something for me, how about sorting my recycling or vacuuming the dust bunnies from under the bed?


I’ve discussed the 5 step process for adopting new innovations and the 5 groups people find themselves in. Here is a great example of the laggard group (recognizing that some are laggards by choice and some by situation). Long after most people has moved to cable or satellite, laggards still get their TV by broadcast. And even after having been warned for 6 months that they will need a convertor box because innovation will happen, even if they do not adopt it.

Some of them may get cable, some may get the convertor box, and some may just stop watching TV. As usual, the laggards isolate themselves from the rest of the group by refusing to follow them as things change.

Sometimes this can be very useful, as laggards retain knowledge that might become important again. Other times it just separates them from the shared connections that the rest of the population shares.

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2 thoughts on “Laggards for change

  1. The majority of the people, who commented on Crosscut, are the ones who have always prided themselves on not watching TV. As a matter of fact, they mostly say, “oh, WE don’t even have a set”. Then when there is something special on, they go to their neighbor’s house!

    1. Where one falls along the curve changes depending the particular innovation. Some people will be early adopters on one thing while being laggards on others. Laggards almost always have a rationalization for why they are lagging and they may even be right sometimes (i.e. they convince themselves that they are really ahead of the curve, not behind it. Thus they are not really stick-in-the-muds but on the cutting edge of a new change).

      Laggards can serve a useful purpose, but serving as an archive for an old approach that might become useful again. They maintain some diversity so that if conditions change, there is a place to pull alternative knowledge from. But, generally, laggards just miss out on important societal events and tools.

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