Hype and Technology Acceptance

Hype can have positive and negative effects, yet I have always found the word to have a negative connotation. Gartner’s (2016) press release about emerging technology trends presents hype as a priority for business and innovation. The article stresses the importance of businesses chasing emerging technologies, lest they be left behind in the technological rat-race. As I read the article and examine the Gartner Hype Cycle (Gartner, n.d.), I am left wondering about the right side of the diagram: the “Slope of Enlightenment” and the “Plateau of Productivity” (Gartner, 2016, Figure 1). Do all these emerging technologies hit mainstream adoption and balance out in the middle, or do some never leave the “Trough of Disillusionment”? Hype, as a driver of progress and business, can be seen as a positive thing. Yet, hype can have an incredibly negative effect when it causes people to invest in technologies that never reach this theoretical plateau of productivity.

One place hype can have a notable effect is in technology acceptance models in schools. Reading the Gartner’s (2016) article reminded me of Dron’s (2014) article titled Innovation and How We Change. Dron suggests that “the uptake of technology is not simply a matter of whether people choose to use a technology but whether that technology actually has any real value” (p. 244). The “Peak of Inflated Expectations” in Gartner’s Hype Cycle certainly highlights that we often hype a technology long before it is proven to be useful. In my experience, this can have a negative impact on schools, who do not have the same funds as businesses to be chasing each new emerging technology. Taking time to analyze and consider a Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) can help technologies be “used, integrated, and absorbed into the educational system” (p. 243). However, even these models have been criticized as “idealized and empirically naïve” when applied to real-world contexts (Dron , 2014, p. 244).

In considering Gartner’s hype cycle, I wonder: are there ways that hype can have a positive effect on technology acceptance? Can hype help or hinder aspects of perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use that are central to the TAM approach?

References

Dron, J. (2014). Innovation and How we Change. Online Distance Education: Towards a Research Agenda, 237–265. Retrieved from http://books.google.co.za/books?hl=en&lr=&id=9dH9AwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA237&dq=water+taylor+and+francis&ots=FO3_1cbZvM&sig=bVYig9e3pS6iQrxQ64Vz9vB5Gzo

Gartner. (2016, August 16). Gartner’s 2016 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies Identifies Three Key Trends that Organizations Must Track to Gain Competitive Advantage. [Press Release]. Retrieved from https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2016-08-16-gartners-2016-hype-cycle-for-emerging-technologies-identifies-three-key-trends-that-organizations-must-track-to-gain-competitive-advantage

Gartner. (n.d.). Gartner Hype Cycle | Hype Cycle Research Methodology [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.gartner.com/en/research/methodologies/gartner-hype-cycle

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Photo by Verena Yunita Yapi on Unsplash

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