“User-Generated Content” is an irreparably ugly and broken phrase. First, we’re people, not “users”. Second, people write and speak and design and compose and sing and play and build and earn and pay; machines “generate”. Third, it’s words and pictures and sound and money, not “content”.

1 comment on this entry.

  • Matt | 28 Jul 2006

    As someone who’s usually had ‘user’ somewhere in their job title or on the tip of my tongue for a decade or so, I’v been wrestling with the ‘us/them’ness of it as a term for a while.

    Don Norman recently wrote: “Words matter. Psychologists depersonalize the people they study by calling them “subjects.â€? We depersonalize the people we study by calling them “users.â€? Both terms are derogatory. They take us away from our primary mission: to help people. Power to the people, I say, to repurpose an old phrase. People. Human Beings. That’s what our discipline is really about.”


    People is a bit fluffy/hippy/huggy to convince the grownups you know whatyou’re doing I reckon though, I’m leaning towards pinching a term from the economists and lawyers, specifically Yochai Benkler (http://www.benkler.org/) who is famous for using the term ‘Peer-production’

    Is there mileage in ‘peer-generated content’, or ‘peer-centred design’?