Tuesday, August 01, 2006

CNN - User generated content at its best?

At the heart of blogging is what some people may call "user generated content" (UGC). That is providing the ability for every day people to have their say. You could say that Blogger is a massive user generated content platform that provides Google with a tremendous amount of marketshare in the blog space. CNN has jumped on the UGC train as well with its new CNN Exchange.

CNN Exchange is a simple concept - it allows you to have your say or "vision" by allowing you to post your own pictures. We'll see if this works or not but for a "news hungry" world, this is something that should really take off. UGC has three main goals:

  • Encourages continued web traffic by providing an interactive medium for consumers.
    I beleive that consumers want to be both empowered and celebrity like and UGC provides this opportunity
  • Provides images and views that could not have been optained previously. Going back to the days when only the prviledged could read, information was only distributed to the elite. UGC procides a way for everyone to have their say and be heard. CNN benefits by getting these never seen/heard stories and images.
  • Makes CNN more human. CNN has this machine like persona rather then a human face. People like Anderson Cooper and his 360 blog provide that human voice for CNN but this is not a regular voice - it's a CNN reporter. user generated content typcailly comes straight from the heart and is from their readers/viewers - not CNN itself (let's hope).
The one thing to caution everyone is that it requires a lot of work to administer. This concept is not new - bulletin boards and forums have been around for years. However, this is a new format and approach by one of the largest news agency. I hope that it takes off becuase it will not only be good for CNN and its blogging/UGC community but should also reflect well on how this concept can survive and prosper for the rest of the wired world.

My only issue is that I found CNN's Exchange extremely difficult to use. It's easy to post content (which is probably what they want) but I found very difficult to search and browse by categories. I would click on a title link and instead of showing me other pictures, it would be a landing page to submit a picture. In addition, hey CNN, have you heard of Flicker??? Why wouldn't you use the same type of taxonomy (user generated tags) that they do so people could actually find something once they submit it!! Hopefully you'll iron this out becuase I really like the concept. You;ve got the user generated content down, you need to work on the user organized content.

Thoughts? opinions?

Chad H.

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