Where the user-generated universe implodes
Cast your mind all the way back to last week, and imagine you were with The Browser, holding down the VIP room at the "legendary" Costas nightclub at the Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa in Palm Desert, CA, the latter a highly irrigated, artificial affair that would make David Lynch smile.
Venture capitalists are everywhere, the bar is open, and the band is wailing away, for it's party night at DEMO 2007, the excellent tech conference. But back to the band: emphasis on "wailing." This being the ultimate Web 2.0 crowd, conference impresario Chris Shipley had opted for an open mic format. Much like Time Magazine, Shipley had declared ours to be the age of individual empowerment. So, naturally, the band should be user-generated.
Alas, despite the pleasant murmer of PR flaks and a remarkably productive smoke machine, the dance floor remained stubbornly vacant. That is, until the boomer CEOs strumming Grateful Dead tunes abandoned the stage in favor of the local crew of mercenary musicians playing "Sex Machine," at which point dancers were suddenly everywhere.
The irony of the situation was not lost on at least one observer, a bemused and philosophical Managing Director from Granite Ventures nursing a cocktail near The Browser. "The UGC bands produced a scene that perhaps reminded everyone more than they would like of high-school dances. The parquet became a real world web-cloud, if you will, an all too real realm where no one dared shed personal inhibition to shake and shimmy. What they needed was the comfort and quality of mass produced media."
The moral of this feeble story? "User generated" does not a hit necessarily make.
Quality, quality, quality. Who would want to listen to some random guy strum Grateful Dead rather than a professional play... anything? It reminds me of all those cheap, contest-winner commercials playing in the Super Bowl. A complete flop. Moral of the story: You get what you pay for.
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