Who exactly came up with the term ‘user-generated content’?

(From the NY Times article: “2006, Brought to You by You,” by Jon Pareles) “All that material is “user-generated content,” the paramount cultural buzz phrase of 2006. It’s a term that must appeal to the technocratic instincts of investors. I prefer something a little more old-fashioned: self-expression.”

Sounds good to me: Self-expression. As I’ve blogged before, other good terms for what people are doing instead of “generating” “user-generated content” include: writing, photographing, explaining, inspiring, observing, videoing, witnessing, creating. There are a few hundred more. The term “user-generated content” was obviously dreamed up by those who want to use user-generated content, not by those who actually create it.

  • The other problem with the adjective “user-generated” is that it somehow connotes a class of material that has different rules of copyright applied to it. As in, Well, there’s truly copyrighted material and then there’s user-generated videos, etc.

    I critiqued this in this post on my blog — Copyright apartheid; corporate or individual? when I came across two different corporate-media-generated newsstories that confused the existence of copyright with the practice of exploiting one’s copyright for profit. The latter happens more often with corporations, but it doesn’t mean that copyright itself is limited only to corporations.