Twitter at the peak


This post addresses a question I’ve been thinking about for quite a few weeks – in fact, every time a news report or stats about Twitter are published somewhere – and talks to specific points made by quite a few people, bloggers and journalists alike, in the past week.

The question is: Is Twitter just so much hype? That question seems to be popping up a great deal in the past few days after the Kutcher/CNN popularity contest in the US and Oprah came on board.

Even if Twitter is just a load of hype – and I think it’s not – where on the hype cycle would it sit anyway?

My view – it’s right at the peak of inflated expectations as the adapted Gartner Hype Cycle chart above indicates.

Where do you see Twitter?

Incidentally, one of the best opinions I’ve seen on this broad topic came yesterday in a post by Don Dodge:

[…] The point is, we don’t really know yet all the ways Twitter can be used, and the most effective way to monetize its huge and fast growing social network. It is clear that Twitter is more than just a passing fad. Yes, the technology can be easily replicated, but, the audience cannot. Social networks are all about connecting people and letting them communicate. It is the power of the network…not the technology.

Good conclusion.

But the best commentary I’ve seen so far has to be that of Mark Raskino, co-author with Jackie Fenn of the Gartner business book Mastering The Hype Cycle.

In a post last week, Raskino said:

[…] Remember the innovation is microblogging (and there are competitors) – so let’s forget the company name for a moment.  This technology innovation example is particularly interesting because the technology is of direct relevance to journalists and media people in their own jobs. So naturally they will discuss it more and the situation is unusually amplified. As they compete for audience attention we will tend to see more extreme hyperbole and backlash. That helps make this innovation a particularly clear reference example, as it passes through the early stages of the Hype Cycle.

So Twitter at the peak of inflated expectations looks about the right place at the moment.

The really interesting question is: How quickly will it slide down into and then out of the trough of disillusionment?

Looking forward to a Gartner prediction in the 2009 hype cycle, expected in July.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. psnh (PSNH)

    Twitter Comment

    Good reminder as we all consider the future of our fav web app: RT @jangles: [Blog] Twitter at the peak [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  2. Hugh Barton-Smith

    Thanks Neville, this post brings these strands together in a very lucid state of play.

    I see Twitter at the same stage as when email became widespread in the mid-90s. Much of the “backlash” is no doubt generated by phenomena in micro-blogging that could be considered equivalent to the infuriating email practice of excessive carbon copying that took years to subside, if it in fact has.

    For example, the tools that allow duplication of items across several channels are a boon to the producers of content, but unless used wisely can become an unwelcome distraction for consumers. Balancing the mix of messages and mechanisms is a learning curve for all involved. It is to be hoped that those practitioners who are more respectful of the needs of their audience than others will win out.

    Similarly, just like the wasteful habit of sending multi-megabyte attachments to multiple addressees instead of uploading them to an appropriate web service and sharing the link is on the way out thanks to the democratisation of cloud computing, no doubt the proliferation of apps for tweeting and following will allow users to manage their twittering in a more targeted fashion.

    In your case Neville, I especially look forward to an app allowing me to filter out any mentions of cups of tea – I don’t need any additional inducements to leave what I’m working on and visit the kitchen :-)

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