Before I bite on Kevin’s friendly bait, let me say a few words about the Gartner Hype Cycle: It is a highly illustrative tool. It is meant as:
“an educational tool that helps explain why technologies should be adopted based on your individual needs and goals, rather than on the generic levels of hype and disillusionment in the marketplace.”
It is important to note that media/publicity follows this fairly predictable pattern – not necessarily the adoption of a technology.
On the surface, if we took all the media stories across all the industries they cover, in less than 8 months media enthusiasm has likely reached Kevin’s graph point.
What’s ridiculously fascinating, though, is to step back and observe the coverage. Anyone who stops by here with any frequency could guess I follow the coverage of SL pretty closely, but I must say my little analysis here is absolutely cursory and 95% anecdotal (but I just may do something more rigorous as time allows because it points to a bigger issue).
When American Apparel jumped into Second Life is when I saw the enormous up-take in coverage. Just after Reuters took the plunge seems to have been the peak of media enthusiasm – with the last couple of months showing the media movement toward Gartner’s “Trough of Disillusionment” (sorry, Adam, no reflection on Reuters).
Anyone in communications knows that stories need “angles” and that no one media outlet can “do” the exact same story as the next one. As more stories about how cool a technology is (or anything, really) hit the stands editors look for other angles and those follow a fairly predictable pattern: what’s new; who/what is doing it; who's who; what’s dirty; what’s controversial; what’s bad/opposite; who/what has been successful; who/what are the duds; hidden costs; why it will hurt our children; why it will help our children. This maps pretty closely to the pattern of SL coverage so far (the children thing is coming, I promise).
I’ve been interviewed by several media outlets during this same timeframe, by the way, and have picked up on these “trends” in the questions, as well as through reading media.
And very little of it is a reflection of “reality” – a lot of Stephen Colbert's truthiness going on. I would estimate 75% of the articles I've read, are written by persons who have little knowledge of the topic and usually repeat something printed elsewhere whether it reflects fact or not. This is probably a necessary evil since no journalist can be an expert on everything they must write about. I submit, though, this may be a reason behind the Hype Cycle's existence. ☺
I joked with a colleague yesterday that the recent 20,000 concurrent SL logins that immediately preceded its off-line status late this week was due to reporters jumping in before they write their next story.
In my little bubble of the blogosphere and media reading, SL is the hottest thing around. But, the truth is 99.9% of businesses, marketers and communicators have never heard of it, don’t even have virtual worlds on their radar and could see no reason in the universe to start thinking about them if you put it in front of them.
So, finally, Kevin, here’s my opinion (aren’t you sorry you asked?). In the media bubble, I'd say you’ve hit the right spot on Gartner’s Hype Cycle.
In terms of the adopters who are actually working in SL...well, I guess I’d have to say they are in the “Slope of Enlightenment.”
December 31, 2006