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Why Technology Hype is a Good Thing

July 16th, 2015

Hype for technologies is usually seen as a bad thing™.

While I don’t want to deny that there are downsides to this, I also see an upside.

tl;dr: Don’t consider a hype an annoying fashion, but rather a massively distributed mechanism for more quickly figuring out value.

Hype gets a technology and the ideas behind it exposure with a lot of people. Not all ideas are going to be good, and the more people take a good look at one, the earlier we will find out what is good and what isn’t.

History is full of this: XML started out as a document structuring format. But soon after it became popular, people started using it for everything, including computer to computer communication (SOAP, WS-*).

And that was very very very popular. Until we collectively realised that we’ve taken things a little too far. XML is a fine format for the things it was designed to do, but it is not a good generic data protocol format.

Some of the good ideas of XML survive though: Validation is still useful, but it is more optional in the JSON world we live today. There are enough cases where validation is not needed, or would be a prohibitive barrier to entry. We know that now. So we made it opt-in.

Another thing I see hyped these days (for a while now, actually) is Docker. I don’t have too much experience with it, but it appears that people are starting to do everything with Docker. And I’m excited about this. Not because I believe Docker is the end to all means, but because we will collectively find out more quickly what the good and not so good ideas behind Docker are.

The more popular something gets, the more critics it attracts. And in the view of the discourse of community learning and understanding, that’s a good thing. Criticism that has merit will spread, and we will all learn what the good ideas are.

In the JavaScript world, React is all the rage. At JSConf EU, we got a lot of proposals for React-ish talks, which is just another way of saying, people are doing everything with React.

We don’t know yet, what the good ideas behind React are going to be, so we have to have a little patience before things will shake out. But they will.

To hype!