When introducing blockchain technology to people, it’s common to get one of three reactions:
- Boredom/No Interest
- Questioning or Outright Hostility
The first reaction is the most exciting. It’s the type of reaction that leads people to dig deep into the technology and learn more. When somebody new gets excited about blockchain, the industry gets better.
The majority of the time, though, people will be dis-interested. Whether it’s a knowledge barrier, lack or time or a general distrust of new technology, most people will dis-engage.
Then there is the third type of reaction: the person who is objectively against blockchain technology. You’ve probably seen this reaction yourself when talking to a colleague or friend, listing off the dozen different problems with the technology. In a way, they’re almost upset that you’re involved.
The first reaction is great, but many more people who fall into the other groups. As someone involved this industry, isn’t it our job to try to convert as many people as possible? That if someone doesn’t ‘buy in’, it’s our job to change their opinion?
I believe no. In this post, we’ll discuss why getting negative opinions or disinterest is not a failure, and how to think about these discussions instead.
The Innovators and The Others
One of the most important tools used to understand markets is called the ‘Product Adoption Curve’. This curve defines different market groups and when they ‘buy into’ a new technology.
Most technologies used on a day to day basis are generally mature and used by a majority of the market. Things like refrigerators, chairs and lights are un-dramatically accepted as good products. They’re not controversial.
Other things, like Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain Technology are at the front, only used by a group called the innovators*. Technologies and products in this group are only used by a small portion of users, often less than ~2% of the population. New technologies can spend years in this part of the market and have no influence on most people’s lives. Every revolutionary technology, from electricity to computing to the internet, fell into this category in the early years.
When going out to the world and talking about blockchain technology, you will interact with people who fit in every bucket of this graph. Most will fall outside of the level of the innovators and have little or no interest in the technology. You may feel compelled to help them understand, because that’s one of the joys of being an innovator in an industry.
Because of this, you’ll get push back, arguments and criticisms. Some argument will be right (have you seen the ICO market?) and some will be unjust. Over a large group, you’ll run into a lot of people who rather say no than yes. Does this mean that you’ve failed in some way, or that the industry is not going to make it. After all, doesn’t it have to grow in order to survive?
What It Takes To Build An Industry
At Hivergent, we connect people to make the blockchain industry stronger. We think a big part of our job is networking new entrepreneurs and developers into this broadening world of blockchain. But there’s a trick: we believe we need to get as many bright minds as possible, but we understand we don’t need everyone. Not by a long shot.
This fits into the Product Adoption Cycle we mentioned above. With new technologies, you’re only going to be able to capture 2% of the total market, probably less. And a thriving, inspiring industry can exist within the confines of that space for many years before having to move onto the larger market.
When electricity was first being introduced to the world, it was only in the homes of the excessively wealthy. The very first personal computers were only bought by geeks, in an age where being a geek was actually a bad thing. The first smart phones were very ugly computer hybrids that were expensive to run and barely sent email.
And yet despite the issues, these industries were able to find a dedicated market of users that allowed it to mature. They were able to survive, despite 90+% of the market not knowing, caring or understanding the technology. Everyone was not required, nor needed to make progress.
Blockchain technology is no different. Bitcoin arose at a time when decentralized currency was all but abandoned by the world. Only a small handful of hackers on the internet kept working on the technology through the literal decades it took to make the technology a reality. It did not take a large following of users for Decentralized Currency to survive. It just need a small number of the right people to set the world ablaze.
On Being Slightly Exclusionary
We’re going to hear a lot of complaints about blockchain technology over the next few years. Not just from trolls on the web, but highly respected members of our communities. Our job is to do our best to inspire people about the technology despite the issues.
But your goal should not be to convince everyone. Instead, your goal is to keep talking and spreading the word until you find someone who is excited about the technology. They should believe that maybe there is a real change and a place for them to make a difference. While arguing with someone who is stubbornly unmovable, you can find the opportunity to convince someone else that there is more to blockchain.
This technology is meant to be shared, but it does not need everyone. So long as we grow and collect the vital few to make the technology better, that is enough. And one day, with enough dedicated souls, someone in this field will find the killer app to convince the world there’s something here. Whatever this killer app might be, it will do more to convince the world than 1000 poignant arguments.
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*Innovators, in this particular case, is not hyperbolic term. While there are many people who refer to themselves as innovators as a way to bolster their status, innovators in the case just refers to the ‘first’ group using a new technology. Your passion could be to purchase the latest and greatest releases of Japanese Dating Simulators and be an innovator. It’s just a term.