Futures of Entertainment – User Generated Content

Notes….after first 45mins.

User Generated Content

Caterina Fake, Ji Lee, Rob Tercek, Kevin Barrett

Caterina: we are coming back to a time when the producer and the consumer are one. People make their own content. The big bands are not a natural state of affairs…UGC is a return to this kind of activity.

Rob: participatory media is a broad section, a subset is UGC. There are people who want to create. SL is another area. The 2 terms are sometimes blurred…not all PM is UGC.

Josh: the initial flickr game was about building an architecture…the creation gives an area for people to participate. Why at this point is there such growing interest/

Rob: the traditional economics have fallen off a cliff. The numbers are not going to get better soon and does not see a bright tv future. On the web you have to drive costs out and have to get production to the consumer. The tools are getting cheaper, and the threshold of getting in is much lower and the cost of distribution is trivial.

Caterina – there is annoyance with mass consumer culture…the choice is reduced and everything is the same. There is a desire for personal expression and individuality. This is a way of doing that.

Josh: Is there a way in advertising?

Ji: yes, that is what they are getting into. They all look the same, people do not want to watch the boring ads…so what is the way to connect with consumers? Look at Chevy Tahoe example. There was a lot of negatives as well. But in the end there was a lot of consumers to their site, over 600k visitors who were there >9mins on the commercial and increased to the .com site. Creating a dialogue is far better than just shouting. This is the future in that they can connect with their consumers.

Josh: what are the risks with letting go of control. Chevy let go and what they got back may not have been quite what they expected.

Ji: similar to a personal conversation. It’s like me talking to a friend one way…by creating a dialogue you have to listen.

Kevin – from the game side there is opportunities and risks. Games want the UGC, community generation, etc. 3.2 million in their community, adding 50k month, even in a year when no games released. The aurora engine that shipped was a powerful CMS, and gives tools for people to create adventures, wanted to empower players to be able to create. A powerful tool set to create in an electronic environment. You get a lot of hobbyists getting together to compare stuff, with a lot of dominance assertion behaviours. Maybe only 1% are generating material (30k) but stats tracking 20% of users are using the content. The material can be 20-30min or as long as 20 hours. Tonnes of opportunities for community building. If 20% want to get the extra stuff, as the content increases and gets better the participants will increase. The risks is that the content is poor…but it does not matter.

Rob: you can have an architecture that invites participation or control. Chevy was about control. The shots were limited, high production values. The response was limited and not surprising there was a backlash. Limiting choice means control. Other sites do not do that, web2.0 sites same to open themselves up. This is why traditional media companies don’t necessarily get this so do not give up control and not breakout on web. Look at tv companies, they are not good at listening, it is broadcast and control. People move away.

Caterina: you have to be honest with users. Dealing with large companies you get blanket denial. If you can confess as a company, agree that it sucks, you can be honest, then this is a refreshing change. Do right, and people will support.

Josh: UGC goes hand in hand with community. Does it matter is all the users do not participate? There are degrees of engagement, that is missed from the debate.

Kevin: our best download was a pack that just gave lots of content…the community expansion pack.. they were interested in finding out what the rest of the community were doing.

Josh: one of the criticisms is that it is amateur?

Caterina – it used to be very expensive to buy a camera. The prices have come down and now within reach of all. Access to tools is growing. The mass of amateurs will beat out a professional

Rob: a lot of rules about content creation are broken all the days. MTV broke the rules of the BBC. The editors they had wanted to do it the BBC way, and did not want to do it the new way. Now those techniques have been adopted.

Josh: Are we looking at a greater diversity of products?

Rob: Yes. We change the way we are doing it. Look at the breadth in music, filesharing allows more exposure. The audience grows, more music increases

Caterina: in 2005 a lot of teenagers from Dubai/UAE suddenly joined. Not planned, just came.

Rob: a question about tagging, as the meta info is big. Tagging is a way for everyone to join in. You may not take great photos, but you can join in.

Caterina: Interestingness – a collection of algorithms that look at the user behaviour. How are the photos used.

They made a deliberate decision not to include ratings. .despite the early requests. Voting can lead to gaming the system so did not want to do.

Josh: digg – the ratings is the UGC.

Caterina – dig is confronting a lot of gaming. One of the biggest issues is the gaming of it.

Kevin: quick slideshow Can UGC content replacing professional stuff in the gaming world? Potentially, yes. Amateur producers would need to understand that the aim of game design is to produce something fun not just something cool. Most of the UGC is cool, they want to play – eg setting everything on fire in the game. So what is fun? We have to go way back to understand the natural history of fun. three hunters go out and get an antelope. Brings back enough for 3 days. The 1st type goes straight out to get the next one. The 2nd goes to sleep for three days before going out again. The 3rd tries out new things and teaches all the other people to hunt and what went well. SO what happens to them? The 1st goes out and get killed.., so no kids. The 2nd rests for a few days, gets unfit, loses skills does not get food and then they all starve. The 3rd. simulates the hunts in the safety of the camp, plays games, increases rate of survival, improves his chances the next time. We are descended from the people who played games, who taught others, we inherited these predispositions to teach and learn, tell stories, to have fun. When we work out, solve problems, tell a good story, we rerlease dopamine, which means we feel good and do it again. We do activity, enjoy it, so do it again. This theory proposes that fun is this cycle. As a theory, this helps us in game design. So the early guys hunted, told stories and simulated. All of these fun cycles can be replicated in the games. So we have simulated combat, movement and manoeuvre, etc. Eg Doom. We have social fun and games, story, trading, sharing, competition, teamwork, eg Sims. We have metal fun and games, tactical, strategic planning, pattern setting, goal choice, meaningful choice making eg tetris. So to make gthe best game we blend it all together, eg world of warcraft. 4-5 million users. Blended fun games do physical, social and mental. So back to the question is …only if the nature of fun activities become understood.

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