Cultural Norms and Social Technology Adoption: A Discussion in Paris

Last night the Parisian Twitter community met up at LaCantine, a coworking space. If you attended, you can find those folks Twitter handles on the initial blog post and follow your neighbors. Fredric took pictures, and blogged his thoughts from the event in French (and now English) about the conversation, I used Google translate and get the gist of his post. I hope the community will self-organize tweetups, I find once or twice a quarter to be plenty to really help solidify an online community.

Although the community has come together for Barcamps, Blogger Dinners, and the very successful Twestival (I met the founder Sandrine Plasseraud last night) was created here, this was one of the first true Parisian tweetups. I asked the room how many of them knew others, and only a handful knew at least 50% of the room, which had about 40 folks there.

Questions about privacy
I kicked off a conversation about the Future of the Social Web, which triggered a discussion for folks. Later, as we enjoyed drinks, I recall more questions from the French attendees about privacy. “What privacy concerns should we worry about in the future of the social web?”. Some even suggested new business models will emerge that will offer to hide and remove your social footprint. In my past days as a web marketing manager, I recall bumping up against privacy concerns in some European countries where cookies were highly discouraged.

Web infrastructure growing –yet social adoption is low
Later, I learned that the city of Paris offers a form of Wifi hotspots in public for people to use, (although folks in Twitter are telling me the experience is spotty) so the infrastructure is already setup. Yet despite this, the adoption rates of social technologies are significantly lower here in France. Creators are 13%, Critics are 23%, Collectors are 7%, Joiners are a mere 9%, big jump with 54% are spectators but Inactives are 42%, meaning that 58% cannot be reached by social technologies. If you want a description for those terms, start with this handy guide.

Back to the topic on hand; How cultural norms impact social technology adoption. The fact is, that French have internet infrastructure, knowledge of how to use social tools, and a government that’s not resisting the social web. Yet the adoption rates, according to the numbers, are much lower.

Question: How are cultural beliefs, like privacy, going to impact social adoption
So despite the infrastructure being intact in Paris, the technographics numbers indicate the usage of social technologies is lower. I’d love to hear from any French and anyone else for that matter, about how culture impacts the adoption of social technologies, what are the factors that encourage people to use –or not use — social technologies.