A new poll from Harris Interactive was released this morning, finding that US respondents are more excited about watching mainstream, commercial content like full length TV shows and movies online than are about watching User Generated Content, news or sports video.
While hardly surprising, I don’t think it has to be this way forever. Who could help improve this landscape by maximizing the impact of the read/write web? Super sexy librarians, that’s who!
The Harris poll provoked two trains of thought in my mind. First, would these numbers change if high-quality and relevant videos were easier to find on sites like YouTube?
Harris Poll on Feelings About YouTube
The second thought this study brought to mind is that even these numbers don’t look too bad for amateur or user generated video. While respondents were least likely to watch more amateur video if it were available online, 38% of respondents also said that UGC was the best thing about YouTube. It may not be the biggest commercial market to pursue, but a lot of us are excited about noncommercial video online.
Harris Poll on What Viewers Want More of
Those of us who are excited about non mainstream content in general would be better served if high-quality content that was relevant to us was easier to find, and if that were the case our numbers would likely grow substantially. The best things about mainstream media content are that it is well produced and generally entertaining enough to watch. We can ask for more than that from our media, though, now that access to media production is exploding.
Finding good stuff online is going to be a huge market opportunity in the near-term future. That’s why CBS bought Last.fm, why eBay bought StumbleUpon, why MyStrands has raised more than $50 million for its recommendation engine, why Google Reader is introducing easy sharing between friends and why you’re going to see many more startups working in this direction.
And Now for the Sexy Librarian Part…
From the other direction, though, as any experienced online media producer will tell you – there are steps that you can take to make your media easier for the right person to find. This is going to be an important role for information workers of the future.
Check out this wonderful 3 minute section of an interview that Microsoft’s Jon Udell did last week on the Talking With Talis podcast. Udell posits that the librarian of the future will help a growing number of citizen media producers to classify their online media and get it connected to other related content in ways that will increase its discoverability. That is hot.
Imagine a future when you go to the library with a 5 minute video you’ve just made about last night’s Presidential debates and that librarian says to you:
You should upload it to YouTube and tag it with these four tags – two broad and two more specific to existing communities of interest on YouTube and the topic of your video. Then you should embed that video in a blog post along with some text introducing it and linking to some of your favorite posts by other people who have also written today about the Presidential debates. Make sure to send trackbacks to those posts!
Now, I think this is a particularly good video on the topic, so if you’re interested I will vote for it on StumbleUpon (as a sexy librarian I have a very powerful account there) and give it a good summary explanation. Any of those are steps you can take that will make your work all the easier for people to discover.
Would that be great, or what? That’s only the beginning of what is possible! My point is, while mainstream commercial media may still be what the majority of people online are looking for – there are a substantial number of us for whom that’s not the case and as we learn to serve eachother and ourselves better in terms of recommendations, discoverability and relevance – our numbers will likely grow.