Hype Cycles and Legislation

Have you heard of Gartner Hype Cycles? Technology geeks who stumble across this blog will probably splutter “of course!” in response to this ridiculous question, but law geeks might respond with a polite but confused shrug. I had certainly never heard of them until last week, but at a “Frontiers of Technology” teaching session this way of charting technology hype was presented to me.

Presented with this concept from another discipline, I immediately morphed its application to my own discipline. Might this hype cycle be applied to legislation? Something triggers the legislature into action (whether in relation to dangerous dogs, bribery, community buyouts, firearms control or electronic communications). Much fanfare will accompany the legislation, it might be energetically explored and applied (depending on a number of variables like budget and technology), it will then tail off after that burst of activity, before settling in to a routine when the legislation is used sensibly and eventually plateaus.

Maybe I am seeing something that is not there, but I wonder if there is something in this. Maybe someone has seen the analogy before me (my cursory whizz around the internet to check has not indicated this is the case). I should also note I have undertaken no particularly specialist empirical study into legislation and implementation to check whether my anecdotal observation above are actually true. I suspect I will not do so. If you know something that I don’t, or you feel more energetic than me and wish to take up the study, I would be keen to hear from you.


Image Credit – Gartner, Inc.

About basedrones

Bachelor of Laws. Scots lawyer working at the University of Aberdeen. English law qualified. Took far too long to write this bio. Blogs on legal issues, with occasional veering into other purportedly intellectual stuff from time to time. Tweets about legal issues, education, law clinics, fitba, music, rogue cell division and not at all about politics at @MalcolmCombe.
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4 Responses to Hype Cycles and Legislation

  1. NotAGeek says:

    An interesting comparison but surely a bit limited. Does it not apply only to technology (or legislation) that was fundamentally a good idea? What does the hype cycle for the Sinclair C5 look like? What about the ….. Act (insert your favourite example of unnecessary, politically-driven legislation here)

    It does raise an interesting thought though. Presumably, part of the process that allows technology to move from the trough of disillusionment to the plateau of productivity is the ability to incrementally develop and improve successive variants of the technology. If only our Parliaments had the will, and our Law Commissions the capacity, to undertake this sort of continual, objective, ‘customer focused’ review of the operation of our laws!

    • basedrones says:

      I suspect it is limited, and yes of course it only applies when the natural selection process does not ruthlessly wheedle any nonsense away at the trigger stage. Your points all make sense – as I noted in a tweet, this is a rather speculative post for me!

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