Early adapters

The_Scream

 The next time that I hear people who tend to adopt new technologies before others do as "early adapters" instead of "early adopters," I may have to do some sort of Internet version of screaming loudly. This seems to be one of those hideous marketing-isms that have been created recently, much like "flushing" things out instead of "fleshing" them out.

Ack!

As I've noted before, it certainly seems like it's only native speakers of English that make blunders like these. Odd.

  • Scott

    I completely agree with the “adapters” vs. “adopters” comment, but “flushing out” something is a reasonable idiom. It’s a reference to how bird hunters and their dogs flush out quail, causing them to reveal themselves. I’ve heard it used by business people describing “flushing out” requirements as though they were hidden. In that way, it might be used similarly to “fleshing out” a concept.

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  • Luther Martin

    I’ve never actually heard the term “flushing out” used correctly by marketing people. I’ve heard it used many times when the person really meant “to add additional detail to,” but never meant “finding hidden requirements.” This does give a fairly plausible story for the origin of the misused term, however. I’ll have to see if I can find anything that supports or refutes that.

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  • Erik Neu

    For sticklers (like me), these are both irritating mistakes. But then I try to put on my pragmatist hat (not as comfy as my stickler hat), and I agree with Scott that “flushing” is a reasonable, though wrong, idiom (and far more common than the correct usage, in my experience).
    I think you could make the reasonable argument for “early adapters” as well–though without the actual pedigree of having an established usage in a different context: the early adopters are adapting the technology to their specific applications.
    So, can we now move on to a rant about “I could care less…”? 😉
    Cheers,
    Erik

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  • Luther Martin

    I came across a blog post today that clearly illustrates how some people just don’t get this difference. In this particular post, the person mentioned that when he saw the phrase “early adopter” used he though to himself how that really should have been “early adapter.” He then went on to incorrectly cite Everett Rogers’ classic book Diffusion of Innovations, incorrectly changing “adopters” to “adapters” every chance that he got!
    Here’s an example of this:
    “Early Adapters” is a marketing term that dates at least back to 1962 when Stanford University Professor Everett M. Rogers used the term in his book “Diffusion of Innovations”. Rogers classified consumer attitudes towards new products into five categories according to how quick consumers are to purchase new products; 1. Innovators, 2. Opinion Leaders or Early Adapters, 3. Early Majority 4. Late Majority, and 5. Laggards or Late Adapters. Online research will also provide his analysis included percentages thought to represent each stage of a new products’ marketing cycle.
    You see more of this mistake here:
    http://indepth.posterous.com/the-o9ers-arriving-on-twitter
    Where’s that Munch painting when you need it?

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