User Created Content

Jon Udell continues his crusade to obfuscate the idea of “user-generated content”.  As Orwell implored in “Politics and the English Language”, people should call a thing what it is — it’s user-generated content.

There are problems with Jon’s two proposed replacements.  First, “reader-created context” is what Stumbleupon does.  It’s what digg does.  It’s not what YouTube or MySpace do (except indirectly).  And “reader” is a lot more arrogant than “user”, IMO.  It implies that the “reader” is somehow not on equal footing with the publisher, and that this is not a conversation.

Second, I object to the artificial dichotomy between “professional” and “amateur”.  There are so many shades of gray between one nonexistant pole and the other, that it adds nothing to the conversation.

The way I see it, the whole point of these systems is that they level the playing field.  Certainly people like Jon will continue to have more competence and incentive to produce more “content” than others.  But the point of YouTube, Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers; is that there is no longer an arbitrary distinction — the users are the publishers.  The system simply enables social human sharing behaviors that have been built in since we developed language.

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