Futurology and computing technologies have a history of over-inflated claims and fast-changing meanings. That there is a time-lag between computing research and development, and the greater public awareness of those technologies that are actually used, is well understood in the scientific research community, but less so by those who come upon new technological delights as if they were a-historic productions. There are a variety of means to map these changes in order to explain how one might gauge the real possibilities of a particular new technology, rather than the visionary potentials. For example, science fiction in film and television give us a useful snapshot of contemporary ideas of technology research, but the lag between technological change and the production of science fiction artefacts is not fast enough to aid business in the here and now. In addition, SF as well as informing design in computing, also informs the more general utopian/dystopian aspects of technological longing, adding to general beliefs (or visions) of disruptive technologies and artificial intelligence. Timelines of technological development help us to understand the historical basis of a particular technology, such as Virtual Reality, and go some way to helping us make better predictions about the usefulness of new technologies. Gartner’s hype cycle is a diagram which maps emergent technologies, labels and trends against actual take-up and development via a number of lyrically named stages such as the peak of inflated expectations, the trough of despond and the plateau of productivity. Using the examples of virtual reality and cloud computing this paper explores a number of ways of making better predictions about the implications of technological change, and to what extent the new toy we are being offered is rather similar to the old.
Michaelson, Rosa, "The Trough Of Despair And The Slope Of Enlightenment: Gartner’s Hype Cycle And Science Fiction In The Analysis Of Technological Longings." (2014). UK Academy for Information Systems Conference Proceedings 2014. 46.