This is Hype Cycle season, which always leads to lots of comments on blogs and other social media sites. I wrote the Microblogging technology profile, and have been alternately bemused and amused about the reactions to its position this year. Talking about Twitter always generates reactions, especially on Twitter.
This year, Microblogging (which includes the Twitter service) has crested the Peak of Inflated Expectations and is beginning to move into the Trough of Disillusionment. Some people disagreed with the placement of the dot, but that’s to be expected. From an unscientific survey, about as many people felt microblogging still had plenty of hype left in it as thought it was well onto the Slope of Enlightenment. So that’s OK. If the critics are all over the map, then the position is probably just about right.
It was also apparent that many people don’t really get how the cycle works. The most prevalent Tweet said some variation on “Web 2.0 Trending Up, Twitter Down.” Many commentators seemed to think that moving towards the trough meant that Twitter was over, never to be heard from again.
Actually, microblogging is moving along the cycle rather smartly. The structure of the hype cycle means that everything goes through the trough, before it reaches the plateau of productivity and wide adoption. Moving into the trough is therefore, a good thing for someone’s favorite technology, but not without risks. It is far worse for a technology to languish on the up side of the peak, never to approach wide adoption. Other technologies whiz quickly through the trough to reach the slope and onto the plateau.
The Twitter backlash has certainly begun, and many are piling on enthusiastically. I am not one of them, but there are definite indications that microblogging will have a difficult time getting through the trough. Moving into the enterprise will be especially tricky, one of the necessary steps to really achieve productivity. While there are several enterprise microblogging platforms out there, one of Twitter’s attractions is the massive volume of Twitterers and the amount of content they generate. Recreating that internally will be hard. Some companies have achieved successes, and I would love to talk to any others I haven’t spoken with. But it will be more difficult for microblogging to jump from the consumer to the enterprise market than many other collaboration technologies, such as instant messaging.