Wednesday, January 25, 2006

User Generated Content Explained

In the last several weeks I have seen an incredible influx of traffic of people looking for the word or combinations of the phrase user generated content . Since I am approaching two years of blogging on this blog I guess my google, yahoo and other search love juice is strong. So if you are one of the people who happened to wander here looking for user generated content then welcome. I guess it would be helpful for me to explain why I called this blog that to satisfy your interest.

Back in the early part of 2003, Vivendi had made the decision to divest some of the assets that they had acquired during the reign of CEO Jean Marie Messier. At that time I was President of the Internet Music division of Vivendi following the acquisition of where I was the COO while we were a public company. The group of companies that I oversaw at the time included, eMusic and Get Music (Which I see UMG is now resurrecting).

The time period between our acquisition and the decision to divest the assets was an interesting time for me. Our company went from a technology driven innovator to being focused on primarily creating an advertising supported media business. My focus was on rationalizing the business and trying to build a media sales force. I was big on advertising. I know that there were many people who gave me funny looks when I said advertising was coming back but ultimately I felt justified in the return of the advertising market and the acquisition of Myspace by News Corporation this last year.

Because a lot of our technical resources were engaged in a variety of projects for the various sister companies at Vivendi we were fairly constrained on new development and ultimately decided to spend a fair amount of time trying to gain some market intelligence to support our advertising efforts and to explore content trends by rolling out some interesting data mining experiments that I have documented in the past here. I think it's very interesting that the successor companies like Pure Volume and Myspace are now in the content business. Hmmm.

Around the end of 2003 I met with Ken Cron who at the time was the COO of Vivendi under Barry Diller. My goal was to convince Ken that Vivendi should keep, at least in a shell form at the very worst, as it would be a valuable content laboratory for UMG. I knew going in that I wouldn't be successful but I thought it would be a good conversation. Towards the end Ken asked me what I wanted to do. I told him about the story linked to above and said that I wasn't sure what exactly I wanted to do but that I was going to focus my career on working on various aspects of user generated content.

Fast forward through a TV pilot that went nowhere(although the idea isn't too dissimilar to Current TV and some others) to Intercasting. We set up Intercasting to take advantage of the intersection of user generated content and the development of media capabilities of the mobile device. Shawn lays a great foundation on our blog for a lot of the stuff we are working on. To me, at it's core, we are creating a platform for the production and consumption of mobile content. Rabble is specifically the first instance of what we envision to be a suite of products around a common concept. Although we are very much focused on location based applications of media production and consumption, we are at out core a media company contrary to what some others may think.

So that's the business part of why I called my blog user generated content. Then there is the personal part. This blog to me was quite literally, my user generated content. I knew at the time that I was committed to creating text that I have managed to consistently do over almost two years. I also knew then that I would be photoblogging using sites like Flickr where I document my family and my travels. What I didn't know at the time was that I would be podcasting an indie rock show. Or any of the other things like videoblogging etc. that I have been dabbling with over the last several years.

So this site may or may not be what you were looking for. If you like I'd invite you to stick around or I'd recommend that you check out my favorite user generated content site unmediated. This is my daily first stop and over time have come to know a variety of the people working on this group blog. It's a definite must read if you were looking for user generated content.

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