Share/E-mail This Story

Email This



Why We Need Better Metrics For Measuring User-Generated Content

from the no-more-storytime dept

Much has been made about the iPad as a consumptive, rather than creative, device. Some, including law professor Tim Wu at a recent New America event, have voiced concern that it heralds the end of a golden era of user-generated content. But to truly understand the importance and impact of user-generated content - including on the traditional media that Clay Shirky has recently argued are fatally too complex to survive - we must have better measurement of the phenomenon. Without reliable data and sensible comparative metrics, it is impossible to say if we have even experienced a golden age of open creative possibility.

For example, nearly two years ago in response to Shirky, Nick Carr bristled at the idea that the Web was the necessary component for creative production, participation and sharing. According to Carr, the people he knew back before the Web were also creating - writing, photographing, drawing, constructing and volunteering. This is undoubtedly true, but because technology did not enable the inexpensive recording, archiving, sharing and finding of this creativity, it went largely unnoticed. Of course, cheaper technology almost certainly does enable more creative production, but how much is hard to say.

When Shirky notes that an amateur video of two children has garnered more views than American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and the Superbowl combined, it is comparing apples and oranges. A minute video hardly competes with the Superbowl for eyeballs; certainly the Internet has opened opportunities to competitors to the Superbowl, but let's compare those. The problem is, we don't currently have the categories and metrics necessary to make sense of the rise (and potential fall) of creation. Some people are trying to create quantify the impact of blogs on the news cycle, but in regards to other media types, we seem to be ignoring the problem and living off anecdotes. So, how can we move ahead with better metrics for user-generated content and what should those metrics be?



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2010 @ 1:10am

    until you separate off blabber and useless reposting of information which isnt content just chatting you wont get anything else right. water cooler talk online isnt content.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Any Mouse, Apr 6th, 2010 @ 1:36am

    Re:

    I would suggest that it is, indeed, content. Your 'water cooler talk' is the discussion of news, ideas, and concepts. That, my friend, is true content.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2010 @ 1:55am

    So, how can we move ahead with better metrics for user-generated content and what should those metrics be?

    That depends on what you're interested in. You need to decide that before trying to figure out how to measure it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Derek, Apr 6th, 2010 @ 4:22am

    "... ignoring the problem and living off anecdotes" pretty well sums up the entire American intellect these days.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2010 @ 6:05am

    Perhaps we shouldn't distinguish between user and corporate-generated content.

    It is often said that user-generated content is mostly crap, but consider sites like Wired and Ars Technica. They publish huge, glaring typographical errors every day. These are the kinds of errors that someone with a 3rd grade level of literacy could look over once and detect. Yet despite that, they consider themselves professionals.

    In terms of video content, think of all the shows today that have a laugh track. If the content were actually funny, would they have to overlay the audio with laughter to try to queue it from you?

    Having lots of content can be good, but we should focus on quality content, regardless of who created it. It shouldn't matter if it is a guild writer or good ol' AC; good content is good and bad content is bad.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2010 @ 6:21am

    To further expand upon that point, from a content consumer's point of view, things like the creator's motivation and budget are irrelevant. People don't care about how much money it took to make a 2 hour movie of CG Escher paintings humping. They just want to be wowed by Transformers 3.

    People don't care whether the witers for Big Bang Theory are really into it or are "just doing their job". They just want to hear Sheldon say something snarky.

    The common things we use to distinguish professional and ameture content creators don't factor in to the content consumer's experience.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 6th, 2010 @ 6:25am

    A truly creative age

    This may be just my opinion but I don't think we can have a truly creative age until copyright is drastically reduced or weakened from its current state. There are tons of good mash up ideas and collages and things of the sort that can be awesome, but right now are hindered because of copyright.
    If we truly want to unleash creativity, I think copyright needs to go or be brought back down to a minimum.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2010 @ 6:46am

    Re: A truly creative age

    Copyright is indeed out of control, but I find that some of its unintended consequences are actually beneficial. One of those (quite) unintended consequences is that the people are forced to retake their own culture by creating it themselves. This leads to even more creativity, although not in the way copyright intended.

    However, this benefit would be a complete non-issue if copyright were reigned in (or abolished). The people creating and enjoying their own culture would be the norm, not the fringe.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2010 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re:

    Only content created by professionals is legitimate!

    Content has never been king, maybe a lowly court jester. Communication is king. The king is communication.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2010 @ 7:49am

    Re:

    And a few folks feel that there is content so bad that it becomes good. It's all subjective. That's artistic expression for you. I like living in a world where there exists access to both kinds of content.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    AJ (profile), Apr 6th, 2010 @ 8:32am

    View Page Source?

    Do any of the mobile browsers support a View Source option? I'm guessing not, as that would only be needed by people wanting to use the devices for creative purposes; the functionality is irrelevant for consumptive users. This supports Tim Wu's concerns to a small extent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    MichaelG, Apr 6th, 2010 @ 9:24am

    bad example

    While the "Charlie bit my finger" video is number one on YouTube with 175 million views, the SECOND most viewed is Lady Gaga's Bad Romance, with 171 million views.

    I don't think his example really says much about the popularity of user-generated content.

    I also think arguing against a consumer device like the iPad is like saying TV should never have been invented, because back in the days of theater, people were free to reuse/modify performances on their own.

    The hacker/maker culture will do fine, it just won't be the standard. It never has been.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 6th, 2010 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: A truly creative age

    I can see what you are saying, but I believe that would still be happening even if copyright was drastically reduced or removed.
    Because of that, I do not see it so much as an unintended consequence as I do just a natural part of things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This