The Hype Pendulum

May 12, 2009 at 2:36 pm | Posted in Analyst biz, virtual worlds | Leave a comment

I’d like to follow on to yesterday’s posting about how Second Life articles seem to have veered from overly glowing to overly cynical and are now mildly positive.  I’m sure mildly negative is next before they settle in on a reasonable, non-hype-driven, balanced view. 

What this reveals to me is that the Gartner Hype Cycle isn’t as good a model as a pendulum.  While the hype cycle consists of a single “up, then down, then plateau”, I think what really happens is like the plucking of a string or the movement of a pendulum.  An event starts it in motion and it goes from very positive, to very negative, to slightly  positive, and so on, all the while eventually seeking the center.  The number of swings is determined by the size of the story. The virtual world topic plucked the string fairly loud, so it has swung to the positive side twice already. The hype cycle may be accurate for a small enough story where there is one iteration of high, low, then center.  But Second Life demonstrates that for larger stories there are multiple iterations before it centers. 

I’d also argue that there is a natural downward sloping trend for visibility for all technologies rather than a horizontal plateau as shown in the hype cycle.  To be more exact, it is exponential decay. Put ’em together and you have something more like the figure below.

hype pendulum


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