Is User Generated Content A Good Idea?

Exactly. I can't say it any better, so I'll just pull some of my favorite quotes from Gomes.

Now, though, he said, users will be able to actively make their own new movie, or at least a short clip, by mixing up scenes from the site's small online library. One such creation was displayed: Through editing, people from one film were made to seem to be reacting to events and people that, in fact, were from another movie.

"Great, isn't it?" asked the presenter.

Not really. Watching a good movie is "passive" in the same way that looking at a great painting is "passive" — which is, not very; you're quite actively lost in thought. For my friend, though, the only activity that seemed "active," and thus worthwhile, was when a person sitting at a PC engaged in digital busy work of some kind….

…It is an odd state of affairs when books or movies need defending, especially when the replacement proffered by certain Web-oriented companies and their apologists is so dismally inferior: chunks and links and other bits of evidence of epidemic ADD. Reading some stray person's comment on the text I happen to be reading is about as appealing as hearing what the people in the row behind me are saying about the movie I'm watching….

…Today's mash-ups remind me of those Time magazine collages: all cutting and pasting, signifying nothing….

Low barriers to entry and the ability to "mash up" are good because people with good ideas can be heard even though they don't have the same platform as popular gurus or major media outlets. But the downside is that to find those diamonds in the rough you have to wade knee deep in lots of crap.

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I have to admit that I don't find YouTube even slightly appealing. I've been to the site and it is boring. There isn't good content, there is the "hope" of good content, which is why you click through watching video after video until you realize that almost all of them are worthless.

Have you ever read something really great? Doug Hofstader's remarkable intro to a chapter of "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" comes to mind. The script reads exactly the same backwards and forwards. It shocked me the first time I read it. You don't get that by surface level mashups. That kind of quality only comes from the depth of genius.

I'm not saying that users can't contribute. But don't equate feedback with creation. A lot of VCs are getting ready to lose a lot of money from that mistake.