Entering the Conversation: Audience-Generated Content is the title of a white paper I co-wrote with a colleague, Arch Dumenigo, with special contributions from Jason Snyder and Jedd Davis, a lifetime ago… the chart data’s from July, but I think the writing was finished back in April or May 2006. I had a lot of fun writing this at the time. I think my favorite part was coming up with a title. Let’s just say the code names and working titles were much better than what it officially landed as. But the white paper was basically a cheatsheet full of background information to inform certain clients about the changing digital landscape and bring them up to speed with what was going on with the web2.0 world, particularly audience generated content. I thought I’d take a quick look back on it to see if I’d just been drinking the kool-aid or whether it still made sense.The consumer engagement model… the thought behind it was good… we had a heckuva time with that cloud diagram, however. That was all my doing, I’ll take the blame. I think after several iterations I stopped caring and conceded that it made sense. In retrospect, it’s a bloody disaster. I don’t know what the heck is going on in that diagram. But the thinking behind it is still solid. Advertising still fails to successfully engage consumers in true conversations… by design. Which was fine back in the day when every advertiser were shouting down from the clouds at their markets, but once one of them starts trying to get chummy on a personal level, then to some degree everyone needs to get chummy. It’s an arms race. And I think consumer goods companies and marketers have done a pretty good job in trying to engage the consumer on their level. Although most of the time the strategy and the execution behind it is terrible and just basically ham-handed advertising in disguise. But I give them credit for trying and at least “getting” it in a Dilbert sort of way. But don’t get me wrong, advertising still serves a very important purpose. It’ll never go away, despite the naysayers. And I don’t think the paper is arguing for that. But generally, it’s good to mix it up. Rule of thumb: everything is good in moderation.The MySpace section… I can’t say I was ever a huge fan of MySpace page advertising, and anyone who’s been following along will know that I think MySpace is a colossal piece of crap – the web’s largest adware application. But adware’s quite profitable even though it’s about as appealing as goatse. So kudos to their billions of dollars. Anyway, I think the points all still apply. I spend zero time on MySpace, so I can’t speak to its adworthiness, but according to the MySpace kool-aid, it’s still far and away the most popular social networking site on the net, so anyone advertising there would do well to follow the suggested best practices. I couldn’t let a discussion about MySpace go without commenting on the puke-worthy design, so I’m most happy with bullet point 4. Advertisers… If it looks like it was designed by a color-blind toddler, it probably was. Stop wasting our time.In retrospect, there’s not much to argue with here. There’s a lot more facts and background research than I remembered. I can’t for the life of me figure out why it took so long to get out of the door then. But the more qualitative aspects of the paper still ring true I believe. There’s still work left to be done. I may personally be sick of the term “web2.0,” and there’s much rumbling in the tech blogosphere that seems to echo that sentiment and wants to move onto the next big thing. Momentum and excitement seems to have all but dissipated. But “web2.0″ is just starting to hook onto the mainstream. And large swaths of the population – if my parents are any indication – still have no idea what “web2.0″ is. Of course, maybe I’m just sick of the label. No self-respecting non-geek refers to flickr or facebook as “web2.0.” Same as no one referred to amazon or ebay as “web1.0.” Note to advertisers and geeks: do not reference “web2.0″ in any mass-market facing communications. Otherwise, you deserve to get smacked by a cold fish. But, back to point, there’s still much work to do in getting the basic tenets, qualities and executions of web2.0 implemented in a manner that’s seamless, useful and frankly… good.