Josh Petrusa, Electronic  Resources Librarian, Norwich University, giving his first conference presentation (Congratulations, Josh!) outlined some of the characteristics and considerations of User Generated Content (UGC).  Meredith Farkas, Distance Learning Librarian at Norwich University, an ITI book author and fellow blogger (Information Wants To Be Free) followed up with some examples of UGC.

With the emergence of Web2.0, the Web has become a community that easily allows sharing of content by users.  UGC is important because we do not know everything, and everyone’s knowledge can benefit someone else.  Stories that people tell about items are of value (reviews, etc.).  Interaction with materials creates a more personal communication.

Tags are a key element in the success of UGC.  They describe and organize the content and help users find things.  They allow people to make sense of content using their own vocabulary, and allow users to re-find their content after they have developed and posted it.  The problem with tags is that there is no control over them, so they are very inconsistent.  There is no disambiguation, and many people tag incorrectly.  Some systems such as Flickr and del.icio.us are help to improve tags by showing the user how other people have tagged similar items (using "tag clouds") and recommending appropriate tags.

Here are some of the sites that Meredith listed as good examples of UGC:

  • Picture Australia Project
  • National  Library of the Netherlands
  • WesternSpringsHistory.org
  • LibraryThing
  • Bookspace
  • PennTags
  • RocWiki
  • Denver Evolver

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and IL2007 Blog Coordinator

 

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