Posted by: rolfsky | November 6, 2007

why it’s easy to loathe 2.0

Reeling from the aftermath of Web 2.0 Summit, the blogging community hasn’t been cutting this “2.0” world any slack. Perhaps best example is Steve Rubel’s post about Web 2.0 stagnating and being “skunk drunk” on its own Kool-Aid, and a lovely graphic example from Alexander van Elsa’s blog asking who has the needle to pop the bubble. If Google buying YouTube signaled the beginning of the hype, perhaps Microsoft investing in Facebook is the beginning of the end?

To explain our growing discontent, let me introduce you to the Gartner hype cycle. For an illustrated version, take a look at the Google image search and select which annotated version you like.

Perhaps it’s a more specific example of the general cyclic trend that I displayed in my own Web 2.0 deck (starting in earnest on slide 110). In essence, people see something new, they get very excited about it, then they get bored with it, and eventually they ignore it while using it.

From the Wikipedia article:

A hype cycle in Gartner’s interpretation comprises 5 steps:

  1. Technology Trigger” — The first phase of a hype cycle is the “technology trigger” or breakthrough, product launch or other event that generates significant press and interest.
  2. Peak of Inflated Expectations” — In the next phase, a frenzy of publicity typically generates over-enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations. There may be some successful applications of a technology, but there are typically more failures.
  3. Trough of Disillusionment” — Technologies enter the “trough of disillusionment” because they fail to meet expectations and quickly become unfashionable. Consequently, the press usually abandons the topic and the technology.
  4. Slope of Enlightenment” — Although the press may have stopped covering the technology, some businesses continue through the “slope of enlightenment” and experiment to understand the benefits and practical application of the technology.
  5. Plateau of Productivity” — A technology reaches the “plateau of productivity” as the benefits of it become widely demonstrated and accepted. The technology becomes increasingly stable and evolves in second and third generations. The final height of the plateau varies according to whether the technology is broadly applicable or benefits only a niche market.

Where in the cycle are we now?

Well, I think the tach-savvy public is likely still in Step 2, while the vocal bloggers are just starting to convert over to Step 3.

I have no worries though, that through the “trough of disillusionment” the wheat will be separated from the chaff and we’ll start truly realizing and experiencing the benefits in periods 4 and 5.

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