It’s a little ironic that this week all the buzz is about an article from one of the masters of Hype, Jakob Nielsen. His Alertbox this week is entitled, Hyped Web Stories Are Irrelevant. The summary captures his message.
Summary: The fads and big deals that get the press coverage are not important for running a workhorse website. To serve your customers, it’s far better to emphasize simplicity and quality than to chase buzzwords.
Well he has a point, although nice guys often finish last. You’ve got to do enough to stand out from the crowd. That takes the right kind of HYPE and perhaps it’s time for the word to evolve a little. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary perhaps indicates how the word has evolved in the past in the order it gives the four definitions it has for HYPE.
- noun (Etymology: by shortening & alteration from hypodermic) 1 slang : a narcotics addict; 2 slang : HYPODERMIC
- transitive verb 1 : STIMULATE, ENLIVEN — usually used with up; 2 : INCREASE
- transitive verb 1 : PUT ON, DECEIVE; 2 : to promote or publicize extravagantly
- noun 1 : DECEPTION, PUT-ON; 2 : PUBLICITY; especially : promotional publicity of an extravagant or contrived kind
Although this might suggest that the word HYPE comes from the prefix, hypo, it seems more likely it really relates to the prefix, hyper. We can see the following definitions in a Dictionary of Medical Terms.
hyper-: Means high, beyond, excessive, above normal. For example, hypercalcemia is high calcium in the blood and hypersensitivity is oversensitivity. The opposite of hyper- is hypo-.
hypo-: Prefix meaning low, under, beneath, down, below normal. For example, hypocalcemia is low calcium in the blood and hyposensitivity is undersensitivity. The opposite of hypo- is hyper-.
Currently HYPE has a negative connotation, certainly to Jakob Nielsen. Perhaps it’s better to begin to associate it with another positive hyper word, hyperlinks. Here’s an idea for the title of your next article, Jakob. Hyperlinked Web Stories Are ... However you finish that title, I’m sure you’ll have a winner.