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Beyond Hype

Second Life and the Hype Cycle

When a new technology hits the market, if often goes through what has come to be known as the Hype Cycle, moving through a period of over-enthusiasm and explosive growth. This is followed by disappointment  when the initial hype bubble bursts. Hype cycles also show how and when technologies move beyond the hype, offer practical benefits and become widely accepted. Here follows one graph of the hype cycle:

With this pattern in mind, where, we might ask, is virtual reality in general and Second Life in particular?  To answer this question the folks at the New Media Consortium conducted a survey of educators who use Second Life asking several questions, among them:

  • Where would you place virtual worlds on the Hype Cycle?
  • Compared to two years ago, what is your level of activity in virtual worlds?
  • The results seem to indicate that Second Life has moved beyond the hype to a point of maturity in which it gains adherents at a slower, but more sustainable rate.  The survey results are reflected in this bar chart.

    Many of us will remember that the internet itself went through these same stages, giving added credibility to the results of the survey and suggesting that virtual worlds will continue to grow as their utility over the long haul becomes evident.  For the full survey results.

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