Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

The Oscillating Hype Cycle (plus the world’s shabbiest attempt at a graph)

My favourite anal-ist material of all time is the Gartner Hype Cycle. In my not-so-humble opinion, it very much reflects the 'hype cycle' that most big technology trends go trough.

It looks like this:

Basically, as a significant technology breaks through it will pick up momentum and it reaches the peak of its buzz stage. Then the doomsayers step in and tear down the tech for not living up to unrealistic expectations. Slowly as the technology matures it takes a gradual rise back up in terms of visibility as successful case studies emerge and eventually it plateaus out.

So I was looking at this and I was wondering where both blogs and Web 2.0 fit onto this graph. And it struck me that it's not so simple to plot. Were this two years ago, I'd have said both blogs and Web 2.0 were at the top of the hype cycle. Both Web 2.0 and blogs have made cover stories in major mainstream magazines and that's generally a pretty good indicator of having reached that "peak of inflated expectations".

And you'd probably also be able to argue, as I have in recent posts, that we're notwstarting back down the slope. I'm not the only one who's saying things have gone flat and certainly the increase in Web 2.0 "snark" has been well-and-truly recognised.

However, you probably could have made similiar arguments a number of times along the way to the point we're at now. There's been big bursts of publicity and interest in both blogging and Web 2.0, followed by a pretty serious backlash in the blogosphere.

So, what I'll posit is that the blogosphere actually changes the shape of the Gartner Hype Cycle some what. In mainstream media, we pretty much all tend to jump on the same boat. You'll tend to note that it's generally all one way or the other as the media both shapes and reflects public opinion in a self-perpetuating snowball.

However, the blogosphere is different. The diversity of voices mean you get a lot more positive vs negative. So as a technology rises and falls you'll get a constant to-ing and fro-ing of champions and critics and therefore in its early days the hype graph will oscillate quite dramatically (and yes, I know this is the world's lamest attempt at a graphic but hopefully it gets across the picture).

I'm not quite sure what impact this has. Perhaps the trough doesn't go so deep because a lot of the negatives have already come to the surface along the way and may even get addressed before we go into freefall.

But it does change communications models somewhat. It also does make it hard to look at data and say is this a mini-spike or mini-trough or are we actually heaving over the peak and down towards the trough? My last post regarding the tech blogosphere peaking. If indeed what I was claiming to observe was really there, was it just a small dip or has the peak indeed been reached as was originally hypothesised.

I dunno, but I think it's good food for thought.

Filed under: Blogs, Web 2.0

One Response

  1. Caitlin says:

    In so far as the Gartner graph represents reality (and remember it’s just a tool at best and a gimmick at worst), I would have thought that web 1.0 was the ‘peak of inflated expectations’ and web 2.0 the ‘slope of enlightenment’ or the ‘plateau of productivity’. But I agree there has been a lot of hype so perhaps that slope/plateau has a mini ‘peak of inflated expectations’ built into it. Not as much as the first one though!

    What’s with the squiggles? Are they meant to represent the dramatic oscillations? Coz if you take a line through the middle of it to represent the averages, it looks exactly like the Gartner graph.

  2. worth says:

    I love this site. Good work…

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