Circos Brand Karma

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Is User Generated Content Out?

with one comment

I just read Revenge of the Experts from Newsweek and it hit upon something that I’ve been thinking a lot about over the last few weeks.

In short, the expert is back. The revival comes amid mounting demand for a more reliable, bankable Web. “People are beginning to recognize that the world is too dangerous a place for faulty information,” says Charlotte Beal, a consumer strategist for the Minneapolis-based research firm Iconoculture. Beal adds that choice fatigue and fear of bad advice are creating a “perfect storm of demand for expert information.”

I agree that a more reliable and bankable web is needed, but I wouldn’t have necessarily gone to expert information as the logical conclusion. I would have thought better filtering of all content, regardless of source, would have been a more logical solution.

There are a lot of things that are absolute truths (e.g. San Francisco is in the State of California, a part of the United States of America) — facts like that I’d agree should be vetted by the pros. But aside from that, there are a bunch of things that are opinion or experientially based, and their “truth” is relative to the perspective of the person consuming that piece of information. This is where user generated content has a huge role to play.

The road to a bankable and reliable web isn’t to swing the pendulum one way or another between experts and average Joes. The example in the article of “Paris hotels” returning the Top 7 from “experts” actually shows why the expert approach alone may not work: what experts take into consideration for a Top anything may be different from what I’d take into consideration as my Top 7, criteria that ultimately determine where I choose to stay.

The approach that makes sense to me is to leverage the best of both experts and Joes and put the seeker of information in the driver’s seat to determine the quality and sources of the content they want to see, or not. Towards this mean, I think Google has the right approach, albeit too comprehensive — I don’t know anyone who sifts through millions of pages of results; the experts probably don’t even do this.

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Written by Morris

March 7, 2008 at 4:24 am

One Response

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  1. Indeed….

    “their ‘truth’ is relative to the perspective of the person consuming that piece of information.”

    …complicates the definition of “expertise”. Every one of us has an inherently limited perspective on anything – so that no one of us could possibly anticipate or capture what would be valuable to to the decision-making process of everyone (anyone?) else.

    Another complication is that each of us represent multiple personae within ourselves. When selecting a restaurant for a group of friends, my decision criteria (and thus perspective) will be quite different than those relevant when choosing a dining experience for an intimate date.

    From my perspective, this holds true whether selecting a restaurant, a hotel, a car, real estate, or even a career. So, in a world with exponential growth in options – how can we gain perspective from others that will help us to make the right selection – for the right moment in time.

    Rock on….

    Rockhopper

    March 21, 2008 at 3:24 pm


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