The Hype Cycle

Have you ever heard of the Hype Cycle? I hadn’t heard of it until listening to the third season of one of my favorite podcasts, ZigZag with Manoush Zomorodi and Jen Poyant. As their website describes, “ZigZag is a podcast about changing the course of capitalism, journalism, and women’s lives.” After the first two seasons about the launch of their production company and this podcast, Manoush and Jen focused on an exploration of the Hype Cycle in technology and life.

The Hype Cycle as explained by the podcast and the creator research company Gartner’s website has five stages. These five stages, Innovation Trigger, Peak of Inflated Expectations, Trough of Disillusionment, Slope of Enlightenment, and Plateau of Productivity, are intended to be applied to analysis of emerging technologies. This framing can be a way to help companies (or individuals) make decisions about investment of money, time, and interest.


A graphical depiction of Gartner’s Hype Cycle which lists five stages, starting with Innovation Trigger, lifting to the Peak of Inflated Expectations, dropping down to the Trough of Disillusionment, gradually increasing on the Slope of Enlightment, and landing at the Plateau of Productivity. On the horizontal X-axis is Time moving forward and on the vertical Y-axis is the expectations moving upward. 

In season 3 of ZigZag (currently airing), Manoush and Jen dive in to each stage of the Hype Cycle in separate episodes. As they discuss a stage, they apply it to their experiences with new technology and even the process of producing their podcast. Further, they consider how the stages might fit in with regular life experiences, such as starting a new hobby or deciding to bake a pie.

I was drawn to this exploration of the Hype Cycle in podcast form because the concepts were reminiscent of what I recently studied in a course about information behavior. Thinking and learning about how others process or search for information is a fundamental piece of becoming an information professional, no matter your setting. Whenever you can learn more about a concept model from a concrete perspective like this third season of ZigZag, the subject becomes easier to understand.

Sarah Davis is a Bilingual (English/Spanish) Youth Librarian at a public library in Oklahoma and an MLIS student at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.

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