Sunday March 16, 2008
A story in Newsweek claims that the "expert is back" and that user-generated content on the Internet is fading. They say that in this age of misinformation people are crying out for standards and information they can trust, and, as evidence, Newsweek cites the following: 1) Google is creating its own Wikipedia using authoritative sources; 2) Mahalo is creating a search engine with quality-based rather than link-based rankings; and 3)... Well, there is no 3). But the magazine adds some anecdotal stuff about Wikipedia's dustups and Craigslist scammers, and they quote a couple of dudes, like Mahalo's founder Jason Calacanis, who says, "The more trusted an environment the more you can charge for it," but who obviously has a stake in the matter.
The expert is back? I wish.
Here's the real reason why user-generated content isn't going anywhere: It's free. Not to readers but to producers. Ask a professional writer to write about movies and it'll cost you. Ask a "fan" and it won't. Generally a fan's stuff won't be nearly as good as a professional writer's stuff, but, you know, what's "good," right? So as long as the bottom line is looked at — and it'll always be looked at — the people in charge will go for the user-generated content. They'll go for the freebie.
Cute thought, though.