Monday, January 22, 2007

Reality Television and thoughts on UGC

I’m finding all this Celebrity Big Brother stuff rather interesting from several perspectives. It could easily be argued that the unstoppable trend of User Generated Content in the web is a natural extension of Reality Television which started with BB.

One of the things I’ve been wondering about UGC is how to verify an uninformed opinion about things to an informed audience. Currently the Web is being somewhat self selective but as we move out of the early adopter phase (which I will argue unfairly, is biased towards intelligence) and move into the mainstream, there are all sorts of questions requiring answers as to whether UGC will have real meaning or if it will become a mire of bigotry and reactionary jingoism. The obvious warning is that a brand’s success or failure could be adversely affected by opinion which is not informed, and that is not a million miles away from what has just happened on CBB.

Whether Jade Goody was or was not overtly racist is largely irrelevant she certainly made another contestants life difficult and did so from a position of ignorance. The suggestion is also being made (with what appears on the surface to be some fairly good evidence) that producers and directors intervened to ‘stage’ a forgiving reunion and prime Ms Goody for her interview. I saw the eviction and there was not a hint of surprise on her face when she saw that there were no crowds to greet or jeer her, and that to me was quite telling.

So where does that leave the reality show that started it all and what lessons should be learned for the Web as more and more sites open themselves up to their audience. We have all seen the ‘fake’ UGC examples and how the blogosphere has turned against them, and outed them. TV took a turn towards dumbing things down a long time ago now and the ability for TV to make a celebrity of an uneducated moron seems finally to be backfiring. I can’t help feeling that web 2.0 has a few important points to take from this and that TV should also learn a few lessons.

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