"Trying to tap into a network of influencers is pointless: it's very hard to know who really has influence and who's just got a big mouth."
That pearl of wisdom comes from Suw Charman in her blog post on Strange Attractor. Like Suw, I've always questioned the idea that if you reach some "key" people in any organization (blogs, podcasts, companies, schools, meetup-aholics) then it will trickle down to the unwashed masses below. That smacks of Reaganomics to me -- been there, done that.
Granted, there is a huge "follower" mentality and echo-chamber effect for some of those groups (you know the ones), but most people won't truly adopt something and incorporate it into their life unless it speaks to them and is useful -- to them. Not just because Brogan (and I loves me some Brogan) said it was cool. It actually has to BE cool and be something that I need to be cool to me.
But I like the ripple effect. It's how I learned about podcasting, Word Press, Twitter... you name it. Sure, I hear about lots of cool stuff from the Top Brass and I've been known to adopt early. But most people aren't watching as closely as I and a handful of others. Let's hear it for the ripple effect.
Props to Thomas for the link!