Histories of User-Generated Content: Between Formal and Informal Media Economies
15 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2011
Date Written: January 28, 2011
Debates about user-generated content (UGC) often depend on a contrast with its normative opposite, the professionally produced content that is supported and sustained by commercial media businesses or public organisations. UGC is seen to appear within or in opposition to professional media, often as a disruptive, creative, change-making force. Our suggestion is to position UGC not in opposition to professional or "producer media", or in hybridised forms of subjective combination with it (the so-called "pro-sumer" or "pro-am" system), but in relation to different criteria, namely the formal and informal elements in media industries. In this article, we set out a framework for the comparative and historical analysis of UGC systems and their relations with other formal and informal media activity, illustrated with examples ranging from games to talkback radio. We also consider the policy implications that emerge from a historicised reading of UGC as a recurring dynamic within media industries, rather than a manifestation of consumer agency specific to digital cultures.
Keywords: UGC (user-generated content), formality, informality, media industries
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