The telephone should have been an instant hit. It revolutionized human communication overnight, and yet it took decades to catch on . AT&T president Theodore Vail blamed meager sales on public ignorance. No one knew how to use the phone, he said. Salesmen needed to tell “the new subscriber what to do with his telephone . . . and to make him ashamed to consider such a thing as ever again doing without it.” Salesmen who once sold the phone as a high-tech tool for businesses began to market it as a way for consumers to chat with friends and family. Only then did it really take off. This can be the challenge with any new technology. The public has to be educated about how it works – and how it will make their lives easier. Take electric cars. Safe, clean, technologically sophisticated electric vehicles (EVs) are losing out to gas-powered cars and trucks. A big part of the reason is that consumers know almost nothing about them. “A lot of research has shown that American car buyers don’t know much about electric vehicles, and thus they regard them as a novel, unusual technology,” says David Greene, a professor […]

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