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BusinessWeek magazine has a piece about user-generated content and how it’s old and busted now — people really want professional content, apparently. As proof that “one after another,” video sites are turning their backs on UGC and going steady with the pros instead, BusinessWeek gives us one example: Mania.tv, which recently refocused and got rid of the user-generated part of its model, which apparently never really drew that many viewers.

Of course, it’s possible that Mania either didn’t approach that part of its business properly, or didn’t bother looking for the diamonds in the UGC rough — or maybe people were too busy uploading their stuff to YouTube and DailyMotion and Metacafe. It’s tough being third or fourth to the party, as a number of commenters have pointed out on Lost Remote.

The thing that really bugs me about the BusinessWeek article is that there’s this false dichotomy between high-quality professional content and low-quality UGC crap. It’s not that binary, I would argue. It’s more like a spectrum, with professional content on one end, and as you move down the scale you get lower quality, until there’s your brother-in-law singing karaoke.

Is there a lot of UGC crap that only someone’s mother would watch? Sure there is. But there’s a lot of garbage produced by “professionals” that gets foisted on people through traditional media too, whether they want it or not. I’d take some half-decent UGC over that any day.

About the author

Mathew 2420 posts

I'm a Toronto-based senior writer with Fortune magazine, and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

7 Responses to “UGC: BusinessWeek misses the point”
  1. Does business week think that big publications offer great content? I think they should check out this insanely dumb article on WSJ

    http://blogs.wsj.com/biztech/2007/11/05/google-

  2. yes mathew & krishnan – you guys are right

  3. Hi Mathew, I think you are right about Business Week missing the point. But to add to your arguments I would say that UCG is about emotions. Nothing as powerful as a user creating something and sharing it with the world. It is all around us and although the quality isn't always great, we tend to look beyond that as we can almost feel the intention of the creator. That is waht makes user generated content fascinationg.
    As an example in an industry under fire. I think the music industry should stop thinking in terms of distributiong music (and sueing illigal downloaders) and start thinking in terms of distribution of emotions (thus embracing users and challenging them to add content to the music made by professionals).

  4. […] Mathew Ingram pointed me to a Business Week article in which it is said that User Generated Content is dead. The article even has a confronting title “Web video: move over amateurs”. Evidence from this bold statement came from examples where specific USG sites were closing down due to limited amounts of traffic. People now want professional content. […]

  5. Does business week think that big publications offer great content? I think they should check out this insanely dumb article on WSJ

    http://blogs.wsj.com/biztech/2007/11/05/google-

  6. yes mathew & krishnan – you guys are right

  7. Hi Mathew, I think you are right about Business Week missing the point. But to add to your arguments I would say that UCG is about emotions. Nothing as powerful as a user creating something and sharing it with the world. It is all around us and although the quality isn't always great, we tend to look beyond that as we can almost feel the intention of the creator. That is waht makes user generated content fascinationg.
    As an example in an industry under fire. I think the music industry should stop thinking in terms of distributiong music (and sueing illigal downloaders) and start thinking in terms of distribution of emotions (thus embracing users and challenging them to add content to the music made by professionals).

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