When the Internet started to get popular in the 90s people experimented with all forms of content, including business material that had previously been charged at thousands of dollars per document, debates ensued. A new decade ushered in free content models, but with one major change. As well as professionally produced material being offered free, the public has been encouraged to make its content available to everyone. User generated content, as a term, entered mainstream usage during 2005 having arisen in web publishing and new media.
In 2006, CNN launched CNN iReport, a project designed to bring user generated news content to CNN. Its rival Fox News Channel launched its project to bring in user-generated news, similarly titled "uReport". In 2009, KMBC News Channel 9, in Kansas City, launched uLocal, a similar service to iReport or uReport. Citizen journalism could now become a significant part of broadcast news and was being endorsed by the networks with the advent of these content sharing services. However, it did not take long for these sites to be gamed. In fact, there was a fake report of Steve Jobs death that appeared on CNN iReport, which was quickly taken down after it was verified. These systems will continue to be challenged as the user base grows.
Twitter and Facebook, the next level of user generated content, provide a pulse about what people are talking about personally and professionally. One is for people you know (Facebook), and the other (Twitter) is for people you want to know. Twitter is often down (see fail whale) so fragility is still a challenge for them. Despite the challenges, watch for many new social applications in the coming years.
In e-Commerce, product reviews have been significant for increasing leads, and potentially sales, but now Google and Bing are informing us that it is more than just reviews that are important. Take Google for example. Search for worth liberty gloves in Google and click the + button labeled Show Options, which is below the search box. A new navigation bar is introduced that has categories labeled – Books, Videos, Reviews, and Forums. Books are irrelevant to us, but the other three are not. Pro Athlete currently supports a product review system to capture valuable user generated content. In order to maximize this effort, more projects are in the works for expanding user generated content mechanisms on all our websites. We want to have the bat and gloves discussions happening on our sites. These new initiatives will create challenges in the pure-play space we choose to operate in, however, I am confident our team of most capable of handling anything.