I recently read an article in Newsweek about a shift that is occurring from user-generated to expert-generated content. While I understand and appreciate user-generated content, I sometimes feel like it is not enough. I’ll give you a reason why. I happen to own a 1983 Mercedes with a diesel engine. The car has almost 300,000 miles on it which just happens to be the point where everything starts to break. I have been online more times than I can count searching diesel forums, Mercedes forums, etc., looking for help while trying to fix various (and numerous) problems. I am always wishing I could find that one site that only contains articles from expert Mercedes mechanics. I still haven’t found it.
Do I think that the web as we know it is going the way of the leisure suit? No, of course not. I believe that user-generated is something that will last. It makes people feel like they have been apart of something, and in many cases, gives people their fifteen minutes of fame (Leave Britney Alone anyone?). It also gives people an outlet to talk about and share their feelings on pretty much anything they desire (blogging included). When something hands that power to people, it is very hard to take away because people like to feel connected.
What I do see coming is the rise of expert-generated websites. There are already many sites that are gaining popularity because of their “expert” opinions. Mahalo is a human generated web search which allows for relevant search results, and About.com employs experts in many fields to answer questions submitted by users. It is enticing for the About experts because they get paid commission on how many page views they receive, and it is great for the users because they know they are getting valid information. One of the problems with Wikipedia and other information sites is that one can never be sure about the accuracy of the articles you read. The use of Wikipedia has been all but banned in my University setting just for that reason.
Perhaps I’m wrong and this expert fad will never leave the ground and just flounder, but I have a feeling that this will be a popular revolution in the online information world. Let me know what you think will happen.