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Tom & Thomas,
   It actually goes back a whole lot further to the work of Galton
(cultural trait diffusion), and then  Pemberton (the diffusion of postage
stamps) and Stuart Chapin. I haven't looked at the early research in 40+
years, but there was lots of research which preceded Ryan and Gross.

George

 George A. Barnett, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Department of Communication
393 Kerr Hall
University of California – Davis
Davis, CA 95616-8695

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On Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 9:00 AM, Thomas William Valente <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

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>
> Thomas
>
> Although this isn’t quite what you are looking for, in the 1990-1991 time
> frame I interview (along with Everett Rogers) a number of early pioneers of
> diffusion of innovations research. We published our findings in this paper:
>
>
>
> Valente, T. W., & Rogers, E. M. (1995). The origins and development of the
> diffusion of innovations paradigm as an example of scientific growth. *Science
> Communication: An Interdisciplinary Social Science Journal*. *16*,
> 238-269.
>
>
>
> The abstract reads:
>
> This article traces the emergence of the basic paradigm for early
> diffusion research created by two rural sociologists at Iowa State
> University, Bryce Ryan and Neal C. Gross. The diffusion paradigm spread to
> an invisible college of midwestern rural sociological researchers in the
> 1950s and 1960s, and then to a larger, interdisciplinary field of diffusion
> scholars. By the late 1960s, rural sociologists lost interest in diffusion
> studies, not because it was ineffective scientifically, but because of lack
> of support for such study as a consequence of farm overproduction and
> because most of the interesting research questions were thought to be
> answered.
>
>
>
> -Tom
>
>
>
> Thomas W. Valente, PhD
>
> Professor and Interim Chair
>
> Department of Preventive Medicine
>
> Keck School of Medicine
>
> University of Southern California
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>
> If one looks up the word 'diffusion' in the *Dictionary of the History of
> Science*, you get the standard explanation that 'diffusion' originated in
> the 19th c with Graham and Maxwell and has a Latin etymology in the word,
> *diffundere*, which means "to spread out." There has to be more to the
> story than this, right?
>
>
>
> Earlier references might include the  "diffusion of refracted light" in
> Robert Greene (1727) and "diffusion of light" in Newton's *Optical
> Lectures* (1728).
>
>
>
> My question for these listservs is, does anyone have any additional
> insight into the history and origins of the abstract idea of 'diffusion?'
>
>
>
> Thank you,
>
> Thomas Ball
>
>
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