Hype Is Everywhere

The hype cycle is not a new phenomenon, but one that repeats itself with each innovation that somehow captures people's imagination. The inventor of a new communications technology once predicted it would "bind man to his fellow-man in such bonds of amity as to put an end to war." Government officials picked up the mantra, toasting the innovation that was "removing causes of misunderstanding, and promoting peace and harmony throughout the world." These hopeful and familiar sentiments were expressed in the nineteenth century in a society smitten with the incredible potential of the telegraph. The same pattern occurred with canals and railroads in the 1700s and 1800s; the telephone in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; automobiles and radio in the early decades of the twentieth century; the jet engine, rockets, and atomic energy in the 1950s and '60s; the Internet in the 1990s; and most recently biotechnology and nanotechnology. People have been swept up with the possibility and then disappointed with the initial reality of the next new thing for centuries.

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