Davos Is Over And I Am Now Fast Friends With Jeff Jarvis and and Arianna Huffington.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on January 27, 2007

The soiree was swell I have now gone over to the dark side—to bloggers in the battle with MainStream Media. Of course, not all MSM folks refuse to get the idea of community, collaboration and conversation. My own boss at BW totally gets it. But there were so many at Davos who didn’t.

I chatted up Jeff J. and Arianna H. and Jimmy W. (wikipedia) this trip out and found myself in alignment with them, more so than old pals at newspapers and magazines. Yes, I do have reservations about user generated content. Arthur Sulzberger is right when he told me “who will do the important stories about illegal government wiretapping that costs millions of dollars and months to do? The blogs?”

He has a serious point. But yet….Look at my Nov. post on Wal-Mart needing a new business plan and the nearly 200 comments made by people who shop and work there. The detail, the new information is totally amazing and I doubt that MSM journalists could get to this kind of stuff.

Something important is happening and we have to be part of it and evolve with it. So Jeff and Arianna, let’s get more user generated content on our blogs and deepen our conversation with our own communities.

And as soon as I leave Davos and get off dial-up, I’ll link to your blogs like I should be doing as I write this. As they said in Davos this year, we’ll get connected.

Reader Comments

Kristin Johnson

January 30, 2007 7:54 AM

Bruce,

I just have to comment on your exuberance about the Wal-Mart posting. You "doubt that MSM journalists could get to this kind of stuff"? I bet they could, with a well-written survey, and they would then bundle it up in a much more palatable package that readers could make use of. How many people have time to read through 200 comments, many mundane and repetitive? And then to go beyond this and sort/analyze, in order to make use of them?

This is not to say that MSM is where it's at, but to take a realistic look at the benefits and disadvantages of the media alternatives. Are there ways you could try to bring about these benefits into the user-generated content of your blog? Maybe a few categorical questions could be added to the section where users post their comments. Such as: Do you generally agree with the viewpoint of the posting? Which category does your suggestion fall in? For the Wal-Mart posting, this might be Service, Financing, Cleanliness, or Add Another Category. Now this information can be sorted into visual graphs that automatically update, and now readers can see at a glance where most of the comments suggest Wal-Mart needs to improve. These sort of user-analytics would render the content much more useful.

Another observation I made when reading through those Wal-Mart comments: I thought it was really strange that so many people were lamenting the discontinuance of the layaway program. I had never heard of this program before, but it seems to be a program aimed at those with a low income. I'm guessing this is not the BusinessWeek demographic. So how is this major theme emerging, and why, when your postings usually receive 0-3 comments, was there such an overwhelming response on this issue? It seemed obvious to me that these commentators were being directed here through some other site, probably an anti-Wal-Mart site, since there are many. So with this consideration, I suspect the data as being fueled by propaganda. (I also would not expect the horrific display of spelling/grammar from your presumably educated audience.) So how to remedy this? Maybe make it transparent where a commenter has linked to your site from. If not individually (for privacy reasons), this could be shown in aggregate, via a table listing the top sites.

I am not supporting MSM, or attacking user-generated content, but suggesting that you acknowledge the benefits to MSM, and try to find ways of improving your user-generated content. This user has generated some ideas, and I'm sure there are many other ways to improve/filter/analyze user-generated content. Now why did I just spend the time to articulate these thoughts, when I don't stand to benefit one bit? *shrug* I guess that's one-up for user-generated content.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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