"User" Sucks, Too

Apologies to Brad Berens and Cory Treffiletti. And kudos to Joe Jaffe. Brad published a piece this morning entitled "There's Nothing Wrong with User" on iMediaConnection.com, which dealt chiefly with trying to find a substitute for the silly phrase "Consumer Generated Content."

In it, Brad rightly points out that the word "Consumer" in this context is offensive. He then goes on to say he's "not crazy about 'user,' but it's better than 'consumer' by orders of magnitude." He then tells Jaffe to "get over it" with respect to his objections to "user."

That we spend so much time on this crap is silly in and of itself, but if we're going to have tiffs over which term to use, let's at least get it right.

"User" is better than "consumer," but only marginally so. While "user" doesn't necessarily have that nasty connotation that comes from corporations seeing their customers as mere consumers of product. But it does do something that "consumer" also did, which is to draw an artificial line of distinction between "ordinary folks" (as Brad termed them in his article) and what we've traditionally thought of as professional content producers.

The truth of the matter is that everybody, is now a producer of content. So if you want to describe the notion of people who have never really produced content before starting to do just that, may I suggest referencing the "Citizen Publishing Movement?" Otherwise, just call the content what it is - a mash-up, a web short, a blog post or what have you.

BTW, we also need to stop referring to everything that goes up on the Internet as "content." Some of it is probably more accurately described as "conversation." New applications and emerging social systems aren't necessarily content, yet many of us regularly refer to such things as content. Probably due to many years of having that now-dead phrase uttered in our ears at every opportunity - "Content is King."

Kudos to Jaffe for dissing "user."