Thursday, April 22, 2010

The underside of Web 2.0

No this isn't about facebook and privacy, but it is about a far simpler kind of "user generated content". I've written before about crowd effects of online recommendation or condemnation, but the generally accepted position is that the "risks" of these is that the contagion (the story) can spread faster than the antidote (often truth). We are also familiar with the idea of political groups - or people with a cause - swarming to start a crowd (if that makes sense).

In the corporate world we are particularly concerned about the prospects of well-meaning employees using aliases on forums to trash competitors or make unjustified positive assertions.

The latest though is the story that asserts that an academic's wife was writing reviews on Amazon to deneigrate her husband's "competitors". More bizarre is that the person alleged of the actions is trying to use defamation law to shut down the claims.

UGC is a great development, but we have to re-educate ourselves about the reliance that should be plced on it. Then again, we've long said that you shouldn't believe what you read in the papers, but we do.

It is one of the features I notice most in senior corporate xecutives - their angst that almost every story written about them or their firm gets the story wrong, but a fascinating ability to believe every story written about competitors or government policy.

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