User-generated content is radically transforming retail.  Wal-Mart launching walmart.com/ratings as the new method of shopping, and promoting it via their in-store receipts and shelf fact tags is radically customer-centric.  Best Buy launching bestbuy.com/topratedcameras as the new call to action in their circulars, along with featured customer review excerpts, is just as radical.  Why "radical"?  Because if you are a supplier to Best Buy or Wal-Mart, you have to be accessible within these new shopping paths.  If you aren't?  You will be studying customer reviews to craft more top-rated products.  What Best Buy and Wal-Mart are doing will, undoubtedly, be the most popular methods of shopping in the future. 

My co-founder, Brant Barton, told me about Wikileaks.org a year ago.  At the time, we discussed that it could be the new user-generated "Watergate".  I didn't write about it then because, frankly, I wanted to see if it had staying power.  And then I read an article today, one year later, about how they were shut down by a federal judge, only to quickly reopen under massive protest.  If you haven't checked out this NY Times article, or their site yet, it is worth doing so.  User-generated content, via a connected global experience (i.e., the Internet/Web), will radically transform governments, corporations, and journalism, just like it is already doing for retail and travel.  There is no way it won't.  Information can't be confined to small geographic spaces anymore.  And accountability will be enforced throughout the system.  Operating with ethics and integrity is the only way.  And don't get me started with what happens when all voting in elections is truly done via the Internet, instead of today's outdated and cumbersome method.  The cat is already out of the bag.

We live in such an exciting period in history.  Humanity is being unleashed online, and it will only accelerate from here via word-of-mouth.

Additional materials: Look at this NY Times blog entry for the background on where Wikileaks.org originated from.  A globally-connected experience, indeed.

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