Does this form production affect your profession or industry? How?

October 7, 2007 at 8:47 pm | Posted in Impact | 4 Comments

Ben posted the notion of the death of Artists and Video Art because of UGC. I question what other fields and feel impacted by the decentralized and “free” production of content. We often talk about news and entertainment, maybe software development, but what other forms of production is UGC impacting, and how?

I fundamentally think that UGC (or whatever term is better) will not erase any pre-existing forms of production, nor the institutions that distribute/produce content. This is just adding to the mix. Those established institutions will just need to renegotiate their terms and coexist with this new form of production/distribution. Some are riskier than others and venture to test new integration approaches, some deny it and try to regulate it and some other just sit back and let others figure it out. What do you see happening in your field/profession?

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  1. For the software industry, I think it will continue to help developers become more efficient.

    UGC has been around for decades in the form of Newsgroups (groups.google.com), ListServ’s and before that, BBS’s (Bulletin Board Systems). Blogs, sites like Digg/Slashdot, and even youtube are just an extension of that same concept: people putting stuff out there and other people responding. This has helped the software industry for years as it was easy for developers to share ideas and learn from others.

    The difference now though is that there is a dramatic increase in this activity and it is more easily searchable. So now if a developer has a question or issue on a line of code (or an error message), Google can instantly search thousands of sites, blogs, and newsgroups to show them the answer. Especially with communities like Microsoft’s Channel 9 and the MSDN blogs, it seems like there are very few problems someone hasn’t found a solution to.

    Beyond the efficiencies developers can gain through easy access to answers, the use of blogs is creating a direct connection between developers and users, creating further efficiencies in terms of the feedback cycle. I’ve noticed this on the SvN blog from 37signals…such as this post: http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/583-design-decisions-highrise-import where the developers have posted the rationale for a particular decision and then have a conversation with some end users about it.

    So I think UCG will improve developer efficiency through this easy access to help and short feedback cycle. Of course it remains to be seen if that efficiency results in actual efficiency when you take into account more time posting on blogs and wading through youtube. 🙂

  2. Electronic books have been around even before digital UGC really got off the ground. There were/are people who say that books and paper will no longer be necessary down the road because everything will be electronic. Despite products designed to make e-books portable and make them feel like a real book, however, e-books just haven’t been popular.

    I don’t know if the explosion of UGC online will also filter into book-length publications. When I think of UGC I usually think of short posts – something that doesn’t take long to read or watch. People are willing to spend a little of their time on untested creators. They are less likely to spend a large amount of time.

    I do know of some instances, however, where bloggers have used information gathered and compiled in their blogs to create a book (in print). Often these bloggers have free versions of the book online as well, but the popular ones don’t seem to have any problems getting people to plunk down some money for the printed book if they have already gained a reputation online.

    When it comes to in-depth analysis I don’t think books are going to be going anywhere soon. In fact, publishers might be more willing to accept manuscripts from untested authors if there has been some interest in the material online first.

  3. Yes. UGC has affected/affects/will further affect advertising and design.

    In advertising, it’s about communicating to consumer, ie, the user. With the fast-forward advance of technology, advertisers can monitor the content that users are generating.

    UGC spawned UGA — User Generated Advertising.

    What websites do you visit? What is your email about? Exactly what kind of content are you generating? Look at the sidebar of the webpage, advertisers know- “6 Days in Isla Mujeres!” “10 lbs of Portherhouse in the Mail–10 Dollars!” “Trapeze Lessons. First one FREE!”

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