Newsweek writer Tony Dokoupil wrote an article this week called ‘Revenge of the experts’. In it, he asks the question ‘Is user generated content out?’ The byline of the article is;
“The individual user has been king on the Internet, but the pendulum seems to be swinging back toward edited information vetted by professionals.”
The article champions the idea that we are moving into a new phase of the internet – internet 3.0, where the wisdom of crowds (web 2.0) is being supplemented by another layer “of truly talented, compensated people to make the product more trusted and refined.” (Mahalo founder Jason Calacanis) The article uses Google’s Knol (still in development), About.com, who employ guides to find relevant results for search terms, and Mahalo, a people powered search engine, as examples of the new direction the web may be heading in.
Another featured new entry into the market is BigThink.com, “a self-styled “YouTube for ideas” backed by former Harvard president Larry Summers and others (It) debuted its cache of polished video interviews with public intellectuals.” I took a look and I liked what I saw. The videos are arranged into topics including History, Business and Economics, Science and Technology, Media and the Press, Truth and Justice as well as many others. Our Year 10 students have, ‘What makes us human’, as an overarching question for their study of English for a semester. Low and behold, there’s a video on this site dealing with exactly that question. I could see that this site would be an easy sell to the sceptics out there who doubt YouTube. (Personally, I love it!) Most of the videos on BigThink.com are less than seven minutes and offer the hook for stimulating class discussion. You can register into the site and contribute to the discussion surrounding ideas they are talking about. A great classroom activity and one I’d like to try with my students. Definitely worth a look.
I really like the final quote from the article from Glenn Reynolds, author of ‘An Army of Davids’.
“There’s always a Big New Thing, but the old Big New Thing doesn’t really go away,” says Reynolds. “It becomes just another layer—like we’re building an onion from the inside out.”
I certainly hope we don’t see the demise of user-generated content. It’s one of the things I love about the web – its democratic nature allowing all to have input. Appeals to my upbringing.