Rant: Tech Trends Tend To Be Trash

One: in theory there’s a strict code of ethics in the media but journalists think ‘ethics’ is a county to the east of London where taxi drivers live and support West Ham or Spurs. Two: there’s no certainty about how many events must be glued together to make a ‘trend’ story but it’s definitely either one or two.

The media loves a trend. It loves a trend so much that if there’s not one there it has to make one up and create a ‘media meme’. In his wonderful novel Vile Bodies, Evelyn Waugh has a gossip columnist invent people and fashions such as green bowler hats, following which green bowler hat sales go through the roof. An imaginary trend begets a real trend – it happens more often than you might imagine.

Trends sell. In the first dotcom period, the fashion was to look for ‘first mover’ companies that had won ‘eyeballs’. Later, open source companies notched big valuations and investments. And then social networks. And now Big Data firms. All without any validation that these trends would correlate with financial success. But some people can get rich if they get in and out quick and have zero interest in the long term. The lessons of the past in building sustainable companies are available but unfortunately they’re in among the old newspapers and discarded fast-food packaging collecting in a gutter.

‘Trendy’ is a word that divides people. On the one hand it means fashionable, on the other it has connotations of faddishness. Too often trends are flimsy, gimcrack, gewgaws designed to make a quick buck out of the credulous rather than being indicative of any real change that’s going on.

When you hear about the latest trend, it pays to be sceptical. Hold off believing for a week or two at least – but the ‘trend’ might be over by then.


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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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