This is always the case.

Something new is always used first by people who are willing to look ridiculous, at least for a few minutes.

Every once in a while, we adopt something because it’s truly a better technology, a new taste sensation, a productivity shortcut that pays for itself regardless of what people think of it.

But most of the time, culture moves forward on the basis of a simple question:

“Do people like me do something like this?”

If the answer is ‘no’, most of us wait.

And so, new fashions (of all sorts) come from unexpected places, not from the arbiters of what’s correct. Cameron Diaz and Will Smith aren’t showing us new ways to dress. The people who go first (trend-setters) have a different agenda than the standard-setters.

That’s why it usually takes years for something to become an overnight success. The culture changes from the edges, and gradually, we come to answer the question about a hat or a software network or a car with, yes, in fact, people like me actually do use something like this.

This explains why Kickstarter campaigns do so well after they hit their minimum… social proof.

The idea of reading a book electronically was ridiculous.

The idea of downloading a song from the internet instead of buying the entire album from the music store was ridiculous.

The idea of taking photos using your phone and just downloading them on your computer was ridiculous

The concept of an electric car looked ridiculous when it started, but I am sure after another 5 years or so, driving an electric car will be normal.

The fact is anything new, anything that stands out, in the immediate term does look ridiculous, because it stands out from the ordinary, but after a while, after the early adopters have gathered enough adopters, the newness fades and tips over from looking ridiculous to being fashionable.

Innovators always look ridiculous at the beginning, but being a innovator requires taking risks of looking ridiculous (at least in the beginning). Not taking this risk means you will always be a follower in your industry and even risk going out of business.

Ps: Alek Wek is one of Africa’s super models. When she first came to the fashion industry, there was a lot of uncomfortable people about her looks, because it broke the perception of what a standard model should look like, but now she is a super-model. At the beginning it was uncomfortable for many (late adopters and laggards), but now, a trend-setter

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