Trying to track hype seems to us like a task akin to herding cats. (Is anyone else as big a fan as we are of the classic EDS Super Bowl commercial showing cowboys doing just that?)
Yet monitoring hype is what Gartner tries to do with its "Hype Cycle," a model for analyzing emerging technologies that it has used for more than a decade. The firm claims to have used it to predict the dot-com bubble and other key tech trends.
As we understand it, the purpose is to help companies enter the hype cycle at the right time, or at least to avoid "the trough of disillusionment," the least appealing of its five stages. (The other four are "technology trigger," "peak of inflated expectations," "slope of enlightenment" and "plateau of productivity.") Gartner recently added Web 2.0 and Ajax to the hype cycle watch list -- we're left wondering how these two stayed off the cycle this long.
Maybe we're being just a little catty ourselves when we observe that Gartner appears to be more of an arbiter than a simple indicator when it comes to hype.
Still, we see no harm in something that companies can use as a tool to help determine whether a given technology may be a good "fit" for them. Just use it wisely, and as always, consider the source.