The Semantic web’s place on the Hype Cycle

August 25th, 2005

I saw a link to Gartner’s Hype Cycle pages and thought I’d see what they said about the Semantic Web technologies. You’ve seen these graphs before — they chart the ups and downs of the ‘visibility’ for an idea or technology over time.

Gartner’s roller coaster ride works like this. An idea first appears after a technological trigger and begins a steep rise to the top — the “peak of inflated expectations”. Not being a hill climber, or maybe just having no brakes, it just as quickly descends into the “trough of disillusionment”. Screaming, I suppose. Sadder, but wiser, it makes a slow gentle climb up the “slope of enlightenment” to reach it’s final place in life, on the “plateau of productivity”. This plateau seems to be only about half as high as the initial peak. Eventually, the idea must disappear of the chart entirely, just as the shepherd’s sling vanished from the WMD hype chart.

The Semantic Web is mentioned on their “Hype Cycle for XML Technologies, 2005” dated 8 July 2005. One thing you should know is that it will cost you $495.00 to see the document, although you can be teased by viewing the table of contents for free. Another thing to know is that this hype cycle is just one of 15 in the Emerging Technology category which itself is just one of 26 categories! At $495 each, the full set would cost over $100K! What a business model!! (Btw, annoyingly most of their links links are calls to javascript, making it hard to reference their content.)

The table of content appears to mention the key items on the chart. For the semantic web these are:

On the rise XML Topic Map
At the peak Public Semantic Web
Sliding into the Trough OWL, RSS
Climbing the slope RDF
Off the Hype Cycle Semantic Web

Of course, you get what you pay for and this much is free. Who knows what these terms mean and on what basis these predictions are made. I was surprised to see topic maps just starting out though. Maybe it bought another ticket to ride.