by: Iqbal Mohammed

Russell Davies writes here about the probable need for a single page/repository of information about every single product in the world - information associated with its actual use, the memories associated with it, the stories, etc. Information that probably currently exists distributed across the web and in people's memories - but put together in one easy-to-find place by the people who use the products in question.

user generated - IM.jpgI think it's a fabulous idea - not least because I have been myself thinking of a subset of such an enterprise.

What if product manuals weren't created and distributed by companies but were maintained as a wiki by the community of actual users? The initial content could be released by the company but from there on it could become open source - with additions, deletions, changes and maintenance by the community at large? [John Dodds comments on Russell's original post suggesting an idea on the same lines.]

Would such a manual be easier to read and refer? Most probably yes.

Would it change the way we use our products, learning to hack them to push the limits of their function? Very likely.

But don't expect companies to fall over themselves to embrace this product manual meets Lifehacker killer move. To protect their future profits, companies want to control the way their consumers use their products - and for how long. A camera hack that extends the life of a camera is one less camera upgraded. (Which would also be a good reason why companies shouldn't be curating such an enterprise.)

However, there's one good reason why companies should allow - and even enable - such an effort.

Because I believe this is one possible future of user generated advertising.

Our current models of user generated advertising all project the only kind of advertising we have known, that created by an agency - made of discrete but related units, pre-designed, centrally created/curated, image-driven and centred around ideas. There's no reason why all advertising should be likewise - and advertising created through distributed co-creation will in all probablity differ.

Every product will then have a page - an ad if you wish - associated with it on the wiki. Want to to find what a product does? Refer the wiki page. Want to find out what the product doesn't do? Want to see what others have done it? Want to see how far it can be stretched? Ditto. Want to compare two products and what they can do? Compare their respective pages.

I also find such a possibility immensely satfisfying because it makes the ad a singular biological entity - growing, changing, maturing and outlasting the life of the product itself.

Which is the way I think advertising should be.

[Original pic by drp]

Original Post: http://www.misentropy.com/2008/07/wikimanuals-and-the-future-of-user-generated-advertising.html

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