I’ve started reading the research paper on User Generated Content undertaken by Cardiff University and the BBC. ugc@thebbc: Understanding its impact upon contributors, non-contributors and BBC News.
The study involved 10 weeks of ethnographic shadowing in BBC newsrooms, interviews with 115 journalists and 12 senior managers, analysis of a range of radio and television broadcasts and online content, plus a MORI poll of the British public, an online survey and 12 focus groups. Phew. 63 pages of report means I have not read all of it yet, but Robin Hamman (who was involved in sponsoring the project, has digested it here. Most of it is centered around the use of contributions from users around News, but there are a great many interesting general observations in there, and will give me much to chew over in coming days.
One conclusion instantly caught my eye though:
“The term User Generated Content is inappropriate and inadequate and should be replaced with Audience Material”
And the paper goes on to use ‘Audience Material’ (in preference to ‘UGC’) throughout. Now, I have as many problems with the term UGC as the next person, and it’s not a new discussion, but I don’t really think ‘Audience Material’ is any clearer.
Material? It’s no more specific than content really. Just another general word for stuff.
Audience? If any word is going to make people at the BBC think of its users as content consumers, to whom we must broadcast, that’s probably the one. Please let’s not reinforce the idea that users are an ‘audience’ or, still worse, ‘consumers’ (as in ‘consumer generated media’. Urgh).
I don’t really have a better alternatives, though I’ve always thought that user contributed content was slightly nicer, if only because I like the emphasis on contribution over generation.