At South by Southwest 2009, the talk entitled 'User Generated Content: State of the Union', was chaired by Chris Tolles of Topix.com, who said that the concept of UGC is "integral" to the Internet. He compared the top 10 sites now with those from 10 years ago, and noted the shift towards user content frameworks such as YouTube and Facebook. With regard to online news publications, the option for users to comment at the end of articles is common practice - although not without its problems.
Todd Morrey of Moss RackSpace's cloud project pointed out that whilst UGC may be all over the Internet, the existence of "mob mentality" results in a reliance "on humans to stay in front of the site and monitor it". This reliance in some ways detracts from the entire focus of UGC, although doesn't detract from its evident popularity. In reference to Obama's much discussed use of social media in his election campaign and inauguration, and the ongoing saga of how to make money from free and user generated online content; Tolles stated "if you can get elected on this stuff, you can certainly make some money from it".
Further investigating free online content, Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson spoke on the current dilemma of newspapers over how to charge for their online product. "There will always be a market for great design, great production, great implementation of long-form journalism" he said, "you can't put online gorgeous photos because they turn into thumbnails, and long pieces get cut onto multiple pages... it just doesn't work."
He then went onto explain that even though digital versions may be free, there will always be those who are willing to pay for the physical product. Anderson's ideas seem to be similar, if not identical, to the current business model, but combined with the underlying conviction that whether or not it declines, there will always be a market for printed news, whilst it still offers advantages that online news simply can't. The choice, he believes, is to "either compete with free or use free", but either way the decision needs to be made.
The panel also touched on Twitter, which is currently the subject of much debate in the media industry due to its apparent news-breaking prowess and affect on traditional journalism. Also under much speculation is how the currently entirely free website will try and monetise its business model; Anderson says that the issue isn't how to "fix Twitter", but how to "create a version of the product that doesn't cripple the product, or raise the premium so high that not enough people use it".