User Generated Content
As the internet progresses, gets older, more used and embedded into everything we do, the content is changing.
When I first started using the internet in 1995, most content I read was created by organisations. Â Mainly because they had the technical knowledge, the money to produce and maintain websites and a name IÂ recognised, and therefore trusted. Â The problem is, most of these organisations were even then, looking to make a bit of money out of you. Â Not usually from direct advertising, but talking about tools, software and hardware you could buy from shops (real ones you understand, there weren’t many online businesses at that time, except for perhaps ISPs).
It wasn’t until I started researching my favourite subject at the time, British rock music, that I started coming across real opinion. Â That is not to say that an organisation, or an individual working for them, can’t have an opinion. Â However their opinion usually has a slant, doesn’t it?
I came across a website for my favourite band at the time, hosted on a university server, created by a student. Â It had a grey background, a console typeface and a single image of the band. Â It offered infomation and opinion. Real user generated content. Â It was the single site online I found about this band, even the band or record label hadn’t yet realised the need for information from it’s fans. Â They continued with the paper based fan club newsletters which were published quarterly.
This simple website of around 4 pages, and no more than 3 images really inspired me. Â So much so, within a few weeks I had created my own fan page on the geocities platform (sadly no longer with us), a free web host which used some online tools to help users publish their page. Â My site took news and information from magazines, pictures I took at gigs and my opinions on records, videos and lyrics to anyone connected to the internet, who could use a search engine. Â That same site, although through a number of rebuilds, server moves and a fair bit ofÂ re-branding, became the biggest fan site for that particular band on the internet, and got more monthly hits than theÂ officialÂ page which appeared at a later date.
Fast forward seventeen years into the future and the internet is crammed full of opinion, fact, lies, stories, news, rumours, images and videos created by individuals. Â Sites like facebook, twitter and youtube have made publishing opinion almost too easy. Â Freedom of speech is still one of my birth given rights (although notÂ everyone’s) but I could still lose my job if I say anything silly.
We give away massive amounts of data for free, and many of these savy businesses have been using that to their advantage. Â We all know they are building up massive databases of information on us, ready to sell to the highest bidder or to use internally to target adverts or sell products. Â This isn’t any different to a supermarkets loyalty card scheme. Â Building up information about us, makes them money.
However, as I continue to use the internet in 2011 with much more corporate funding, I’m continuing to use more user generated content. Â I tend to get breaking news from twitter. I get technology updated from blogs. I get advice from forums.
In my line of work forums are fantastic places to get snippets of information, advice and ideas. Â Users helping users. Â I rarely have to ask for help (most issues have been encountered by others before me), but I always try and give back. Â I think my edugeek activities are probably a good example of that.
I’ve talked a fair bit about my love of twitter. Â I’ve built a fantastic PLN (personal learning network) of like minded individuals, which I consult daily. Â Twitter is an excellent place to get up to the date information and news, and a fantastic place to get links. Â Much faster than google.
Invariably, those links end up on peoples blogs. Â Someone has taken the time to think out loud and publish their thoughts for others to see. Â That’s what the internet is all about, and what firstÂ attractedÂ me to it.
It is also what attracted me to the Feb29th.netÂ blogging project. Â It’s concept is to get more people blogging, get blogging more exposure, make it more simple (just two clicks) and prove that blogging is safe. Â I really hope it is a great success, and thank David Mitchell for bringing us the concept.
Why not jump on to Feb29th.netÂ and write your own blog entry. Â Produce something unique, safe in the knowledge that nobody is using it for their own financial gain, rather for the good of the internet community. Create something great today.