In chapter 19 of their book Networks, Crowds, and Markets, David Easley and Jon Kleinberg discuss the way that innovations spread across networks. They cite research describing how farmers decide to adopt new seed corn hybrids and the way that doctors decide to prescribe new therapies. The research shows that simply knowing about an innovation isn’t enough to prompt most people to adopt it. We take the plunge when we see that some proportion of the associates in our network are adopting the new technology.
As I reflect on my response to COVID-19, I recognize the influence of the people in my network. When I see people wearing masks at the grocery store, I feel more confident in my decision to wear one. If nobody in my network was wearing a mask, I would feel self-conscious about doing so myself despite the advice of from experts outside my personal circle.