27 May 2011

U and Non-U in UGC

UGC refers to user generated content the part of a news story that is generated by the public. The BBC discuss UGC,
"The one-way, 'one to many lecture' of a few years ago has been replaced by news as conversation.

Audiences can answer back; criticise, ask questions journalists didn't think of; add their knowledge and expertise to an evolving story.

For some, it's become a two-way relationship of equals; and even more traditional news organisations recognise that their former silent audiences are now a source of news and comment.

'User generated content' (UGC) is part of this new relationship."
Which is perhaps as it should be.

The BBC respond to UGC by incorporating it into their news broadcasts. But there is a potential problem with this content: authentication. When the BBC journalist receives some UGC how does he know it is what it purports to be and how does the journalist know the sender is who he says he is?

The BBC has developed a check list that is used so that they can try and avoid falling foul of hoax UGC
"1. Email user
...
2. Cross-check photo wires
...
3. Could they have shot ALL the pics?
...
4. PowerPoint? Be wary
...
5. No text. Be wary
...
6. Check pixels
....
7. Too good to be true?
..."
It is obvious that this is part of the process called the historical method which is a part of epistemeology.

All very interesting but where's the beef?

Well, how much of this process do bloggers and tweeters perform before we post or re-tweet content that we find on the web? Bear in mind that the BBC guidelines appeared to be devised so that they can guard against hoaxes: what about something more serious such as propaganda? I don't believe that these checks will be sufficient, but at least it's something, an attempt; a realisation of the fallibility of the process.

If you do use UGC on your blog or re-tweet how do you know you're not peddling propaganda for others?

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