Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fading Hype, 2014 Edition

While the news media is busy recapping the big stories of 2014, it is also worth considering the stories that didn’t happen, or more precisely, the hype that didn’t turn into anything. The biggest such story, as I look back, was the Ebola outbreak that never reached North America. It all sounded like high drama at the time, with governors overruling medical diagnoses and locking up medical professionals who had no symptoms but “looked sick.” The way the story faded just one week after the U.S. election should tell you the Ebola scare was created mainly for political purposes.

But that is just one story where the speculation got way out ahead of the reality. The news is filled with these stories every day. All this year there were ongoing rumors of retail bankruptcies such as Sears and Radio Shack that still haven’t happened (though there were a few — most notably Delia’s and Deb). In any given year there will be big talk about new products and experimental designs that never come to light, and that happened this year too with too many “breakthroughs” to mention. Some of those, of course, can now be found on the lists of products to watch for in 2015 (at the top of the list, a smart watch that tethers to your mobile phone). It is hard to guess how many of the products on those lists will amount to anything. When you look at the news, consider how much of it is hype, speculation, hearsay, and opinion — and weigh it accordingly.