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How Social Networks Grow, and What it Means for Construction Tech

We’ve talked before about how FieldLens resembles a social network for the construction industry.

Social networks can be very powerful. But for a new network to have any value, it has to solve the chicken-and-egg problem: If nobody’s using it, nobody will want to use it. We hear from FieldLens customers that once a few colleagues start using it, it spreads fast because of how useful it is.

So who goes first? The first “early adopters” of TV sets, VCRs, home computers, and so on, were people who could afford to buy something expensive. It used to be technology was adopted first by the wealthy.

Social networks are completely different. The first Facebook users weren’t rich gadget buffs, they were college students. Twitter earned its fame not as a medium for the elite, but as a populist megaphone for social protest. Recent social sensations like SnapChat (adored by young people) and WhatsApp (which lets thrifty people avoid text-messaging charges) follow a similar pattern. Social media is for everyone.

Today’s coolest technologies are inexpensive apps used by millions, not expensive hardware bought by a wealthy few. Consider what a change this represents for technology.

You no longer have to be rich to be an early adopter. You just have to be curious.

At FieldLens, we build products for builders who are looking for a better way to communicate. We don’t expect the first users on any given jobsite to have fancy workstations and large IT departments. Our tools work great if you do. But FieldLens works just as well for the subcontractor working out of a van, for the super walking a jobsite, and for anyone with work boots and a smartphone.

Social networks have taught us that a new technology can produce huge benefits by empowering people where they are right now, at a low cost, with devices they already use.

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