The names we give things are some times unfortunate. Take "user generated content," for example. Doc Searls has argued that this is stupid for a variety of reasons. I was listening to Tom Parrish interview Dave Evans on IT Conversations this morning and had some new thoughts on that.
There are three problems with "user generated content:"
- User: even if you like the word "user" it's still not just users who are doing this. For example, is Mitt Romney a "user?"
- Generated: is there a more impersonal verb you could find for the creative acts of writing, filming, interviewing, editing, and so on?
- Content: content gives us the wrong idea. What matters isn't content, it's stories. People don't "consume content" but they do relate, strongly, to stories.
Tom and Dave don't make this argument. In fact, they use the very term I'm denigrating here. But the ideas are there.
I'm under no illusion that we'll stop using the term "user generated content" anytime soon. It's too well established. But I do think it's more powerful to talk about the creative processes directly than to try to abstract them away with generic terms.