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Why do you think some user-generated content projects have failed?

It seems safe to say that user-generated content projects failed because they were flawed projects whose content was user-generated. We are people, after all. Some old-timers bemoan the unreliability of Wikipedia and its user-generated content, yet to their error do not realize those print encyclopedias were also user-generated (although on a smaller scale) and full of errors, so their reliability was about the same.

Existence is an odd thing. We are social creatures which depend on community. Even myself, an only child, mainly sheltered from the real world, recognized my social detachment. I missed that which I did not have and couldn’t even really imagine. Earliest humankind depended upon the community for both order and survival. We are user-generated beings who depend on the work of others. To come to any understanding of truth in our lives, we depend upon the many voices with contradictory ideas. Ancient Roman streets were lined with competing icons of truth and value, and user-generated deities and texts.

Things changed throughout history when one religious view began to trump all others. Then the creeds were written, truth declared, and life was now lived according to those in power. The user-generated voices who used to speak were now silenced into a dark ages filled with inquisitions and crusades. Reformation, scholastic thought and Enlightenment brought back the user-generated thinking as theses were nailed to the wall, books published, and scientists dreamed. With those user-generated ideas came some great intellects, and also some misguided ones. But still, user-generated ideas and materials beat the alternative of truth in one form, one size fits all.

We get some failures. Wikipedia may record your death while you are reading it. Polls get predictions wrong. When you open things up for others to contribute, you give up power and control. Relationships are about the opening of oneself, both for joy and hurt. But what us gained by being closed off and detached? A static website tells everyone how you see things…a comments section suggests others may see it differently. When you open yourself up to another, you never know what you will hear. Maybe a compliment…maybe a critique…maybe a surprise. Truth itself is user-generated and based upon that which we interpret and name. No wonder we make such a mess. But we are not clones simply doing what is expected of us.

No idea if this even answers the question. Not even sure if it’s right or not. After all, it’s just a user-generated blog. And I’d be happy to hear what you have to say.


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