“This time, the star of the show, could be you…”

April 3, 2009 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

The rise of User Generated Content

Till recently, I didn’t know what User Generated Content was, despite using it for some time. I realised that my blog and numerous social networking sites were among some examples. My granddaughter Ellie’s favourite game, ‘Little Big Planet’ is another example.

I realised just how broad user generated content has become. You could say that the first examples of user generated content were ‘The Golden Shot’ and ‘You’ve Been Framed’. With the former, its contestants directed the gun over the telephone, and millions of viewers were entertained by its callers, at the mercy of Bob Monkhouse, Charlie Williams, and a hostess who couldn’t add up properly. The latter was a precursor to YouTube though Google’s video sharing service does not pay you £200 for the best clip.

Fast forward to 2005, I started seeing news programmes doing user generated content. I thought at first it was a lazy way to fill airtime, but in recent years I started sending my photos to Northwest Tonight. Gordon Burns and Co has yet to return the favour, but it’s on their website.

Following a conversation at The Nursery I had with Alex yesterday, I asked him for further advice on user generated content. Unsurprisingly, he went around the houses but told me everything I needed to know. He told me that such works would be previously unpublished, akin to sending a poem to a writers’ group magazine, or my recent rantings on Twitter. He also said that a degree of creativity, outside of professional routines and practices were instrumental to its success.

Just as I found a suitable time to go for a Bruce and get the next round in, he ‘blinded me with science’ with another term: ‘crowdsourcing’. With this term, other users can add to existing content in respond to existing images and data. At that point, he told me about a fellow colleague’s Google Map on pubs in Heaton Moor.

Sat a few yards away from me in the lounge was a balding male, in his early 60s, who overheard our conversation. He thought it was killing serious journalism, press photography and local news. Though I did not say this (to avoid eventual confrontation), I thought it was a worthy adjunct to the Stockport Express, Manchester Evening News and BBC’s Northwest Tonight. It added to the mix and strengthened the reader’s bond with the journal or television channel.

I found that he was of the old school of media professionals, when he told me about his time at the North Cheshire Herald. Moments later, he said he had a Facebook account, played World of Warcraft, submitted his funnies to YouTube, uploaded his photos to Flickr, and managed a weblog. His favoured subject area for his blog was Stockport County.

I would say he had a point on the effects user generated content had on journalism. He also told me of the loss of intellectual property if the site closes down, plus the fact it had a negative impact on skilled journalists. He’s in the National Union of Journalists, and as a consequence referred me to another article on user generated content.

I have found user generated content part of my life more than ever, and had it not been for Alex, I would have had no idea how. Without realising it, I didn’t think that my ‘Mini Marple’ level on ‘Little Big Planet’, co-created by myself and granddaughter Ellie was one example. I thought it was only a custom level, akin to the days of Loderunner’s level editor on the ZX Spectrum.

Thanks to her, Ellie’s school friends are having great fun jumping on platforms circling The Navigation Inn whilst trying to avoid passing the 383/384 circular buses (OK, I lied about that bit – unless someone develops a plug-in featuring Stagecoach’s Enviro 400 double deckers).


T.U., 03 April 2009


Entry filed under: Computing, Internet, Marketing, SEO, Social Networking, User Generated Content, Web 2.0.

(Do You Remember) the First Time? MergerMania.com

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