Wednesday, October 24, 2007

UGC : does changing its name change our approach?

Stowe Boyd points us at Clay Shirkey's (see recommended blogs, left) thoughts on the need for a new term to replace User Generated Content in the minds of the media.

"Indigenous Content (which is to say “Created by the natives for themselves.”)

Instantly I quite like indigenous content. Or IC, as we'll be calling it by the end of the month... It's warmer, less master-and-servant.

But at the same time, is it just me, or does it still seem a bit, well, patronising?

Perhaps it's just my perspective - as someone who has been used to being at the centre, broadcasting out for a large part of my career. My natural (and obviously incorrect) fall-back position is to assume that I am not part of the native group doing the creating. If that's an issue for me, I suspect the mainstream media are going to be in at least a similar, if not worse, position.

Is what we call UGC important? Well yes, I think it is, for the reasons illustrated above.

The important thing is for media companies to understand is their relationship to both the natives and what the natives create.

If we label it as in some way different from that created by media companies (ie, simply 'content' or increasingly, and usually inaccurately 'expert' content) then we place a barrier between Us and Them.

Doesn't what we have learned about the power of the network and the dominance of communities insist that the barrier is torn down?

And to that end I'm going to stop calling UGC anything other than content.

Please, by all means question this approach, or suggest alternatives. It'll help us arrive at a more robust position.


  1. I rather like "Indigenous Content" and will use it from now on. But is there a corollary: is the content produced by publishers, record labels and so on now "Imperialist Content" or perhaps "Colonialist Content"?

  2. Nice one CD - and nice to meet on Friday, too.
    Yep, your suggestions for the publisher-produced content ought to serve to focus a few minds!!
    At least until we all learn to call (and deserve to call) any content of any variety by the same name! Best dc

  3. Cave-man-esque. I'm trying to say it, but just not feeling it, although the concept of what Indigenous Content is trying express is valid, and the visual anecdote of a community fire is appealing. Indigenous Content just has too many syllables, and I think the word should be easier to grasp in context. That said, I am opposed to the description 'user' and continue to ask everyone to refer to anyone doing anything with technology in any form, as 'people' please. So, I support this thoughtful address toward putting clarity of meaning to what is being produced. Best you craft thought toward a workable description now - or, face ongoing re-branding of humanity with more ridiculous labels, as some marketers have decided that we are now all 'multipliers' (

    How about People Created Content, People's Content or Stuff We Make?

    I vote to keep the brainstorming going -- here! here!


  4. All very American, label-centric, liberal academic discussion. Who the f* cares? UGC is a perfectly serviceable descriptor in most contexts. We know what it means - anything else is just politics. And if you ask me the word 'indigenous' has an etymology in race which makes it ambiguous.

  5. Hey gusto, thanks for some great contributions today.
    I have this bee in my bonnet about labelling. Something to do with degree 20-years ago, The Chicago School and labelling theory. It has stuck with me. Ultimately words matter. But you're right, how we use them even more so.


The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?