If, by cruel dint of fate, you work within the peppy ambit of a marketing department, you’ve heard all about it. Web 2.0 will Change the World. User Generated Content will Transform Business. And then, when Jaidyn and Skye get to the part in the Presentation about Collaborative Content Creation, or whatever the hell else they’re calling it this week, I generally (a) reach for my revolver or (b) close my eyes and think of a world before “comments”.

Business people and journalists are regularly assailed by a salvo of stats: five gajillion youtube videos are uploaded every day; dickety billion blog posts vie for the interest of Google every hour; a small nation of Facebook friends fail to form at least seventeen thousand proper sentences every second.

Frankly, Skye and her unstuck tribe of daisy-age digerati make about as much sense as, say, the fact of Kochie being born, whole and unimpeded, with the ability to speak. I find it easy to expel this information just as soon as Skye from Marketing feeds it to me.

However when the chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission starts spruiking web 2.0’s conversational culture, I suppose one has to pay a bit more attention.

At a Walkley Business lunch in Sydney yesterday, ACCC big cheese Graeme Samuel served himself up, I imagine, on the sort of platter trad journalists would happily molest.

Some of the assumptions, he said, “about users trusting known brands are starting to look a little shaky.”

Citing data from sprawling blog-o-dex Technorati he explained that, “audiences are less and less likely to distinguish a blog from, say, nytimes.com or other mainstream media sites.”

Say what? Call me old-fashioned and culturally myopic, but are users really thick and dull to this extent? That is, we are to suppose that future readers make no distinction between the ill-formed, liberally punctuated nonsense of blogspot from the slender style of the grey lady?

Next we’ll be finding out that barely literate, overweening bloggers who recycle gags about “political correctness” are appointed as opinion editors in Murdoch press.

Oh, wait… The message from marketing and, now, the ACCC is as urgent as it is formless: learn to converse directly with your market or perish.

While it’s sage for the business minded to keep this interactivity in mind, I think we’ve got five minutes or so before the line between blog and honour blurs for all time.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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