Something about the term “user generated content” has bugged me ever since I first heard it. I’m enthusiastically behind what it actually means. But the term itself just sticks in my craw. It makes me think of a galley full of
slaves users, chained down, “generating” “content”.
I just came across this post about the term from Ted Ernst at AboutUs (a Portland-based wiki company where Ward Cunningham, the guy who invented the wiki concept, works):
The individual contribution is not what’s important, it’s not what makes everything work — it’s the fact that we have a community of contributors who implicitly agree to work together, to collaborate, to try and constantly improve the content.
It’s a short post, and worth a read. It references (and quotes) a great post by Brianna, a Wikimedia admin, where the idea originated. Read that one, too:
Actually, there’s only one problem at root: the attitude which leads one to choose these words. That attitude is one from the corporate world. That the best term they could come up with was “user-generated content” shows what a limited understanding the business world has of what it is we’re doing. And why should we settle for the best term THEY can come up with?
I’m a big believer that names are important. They have power and significance beyond what you think.
Food for thought.