The positive deviant's advantage – from fringe to mainstream

By Michael McCauley In their book The Deviant’s Advantage: How Fringe Ideas Create Mass Markets, consulting futurists Watts Wacker and Ryan Mathews posit that many new products and services start out as the ideas of positive deviants – ideas that are on the cultural fringe. Often, these ideas grow into mainstream products, but not effortlessly. The initial idea moves through several stages on its journey toward “Social Conventional.” The stages include the beginning, Fringe, then to Edge, Realm of Cool, Next Big Thing, and, finally, Social Conventional The key is that the initial deviant idea must undergo signiificant change at every stage on its way toward becoming “Conventional Wisdom.” What does this have to do with Wikipedia? Ward Cunningham started programming an engine he called WikiWikiWeb in 1994.  (Wiki – Hawaiian for “fast.”)  It was the first wiki appication ever written. A wiki is a collection of web pages designed so that anyone – not just computer programmers – can modify content. The markup language is simple. Collaboration and community is enabled and reinforced. The application has changed enormously since 1994. Today it’s the basis of Wikipedia and so many other collaborative websites. A great idea began on the fringe, underwent changes, and today is the basis of a valuable mainstream asset.]]>

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