We’re right at the beginning of our research into the impact and value of UGC, commissioned by Ofcom just before Christmas, as mentioned previously by Sarah (which, incidentally, goes some way to explaining the relative quiet on this blog over the last few days). This is always my favourite part of the process: mapping out the terrain, formulating questions, figuring out the best people to talk to, getting our heads around existing literature.

It’s also the point where we get to talk to great people, and this week has been exceptional on that front; we’ve had illuminating conversations with, among others, Robbie Stamp (one of the founders of the H2G2 – or Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – community site, and chair of Not Panicking Ltd), Simone Smith (Founder of pressure group UGC Alliance*, based in San Francisco) and Nikhil Shah (founder of London based music tech start up MixCloud, which I’ve discussed on my own blog and will be talking about in more detail here), as well as to a couple of old friends, the BBC’s Nick Reynolds and arts consultant John Kieffer.

Of course, at this point, more questions are arising than are being answered! Here’s some of the stuff beginning to surface…

  • Can we come up with a meaningful definition for User-Generated Content?
  • At what point does UGC simply become content – is it when it’s professionalised (as per the OECD’s definition), or at some other point?
  • How can contributors to community-driven content sites share in any financial success? And how can they be protected from exploitation?
  • Where UGC practice is a question of social curation, how can value flow back to the original content’s creators?
  • Indeed, to what degree is curation an act of content creation?
  • How can ‘content incumbents’ derive value from UGC and social curation?
  • Has the “You Tube culture” created a mew aesthetic, and a new set of cultural values?
  • Away from the content industries, how can UGC benefit institutions, from the police to, say TFL?
  • How many people are creating, curating and/or consuming UGC and what information is there on demographics?

As we start to find answers to these question, and, indeed, as we start to raise others, well capture it all here. And as Sarah said in her post, please get in touch if you think you have something to contribute.


* Here’s Simone explaining the Alliance’s work: