Fellow London blogger Asi Sharabi has put together an analysis of the types of videos most watched on YouTube. He breaks them down into categories like music videos, commercial promos, user generated content.
His focus is on user generated content, and he calculates that 86% of the most watched videos on YouTube in July are UGC. But I have to completely disagree with his definition of what is user generated content.
He defines it as follows…

As I see it, everything that has been uploaded without commercial / marketing / promotional purpose in mind is UGC. That includes clips that were on TV, movies etc and for some reason been uploaded to YouTube, like sports great moments, or a bit from Paris Hilton TV Show.

Now as someone who has been championing user generated content since the 90’s, I must take issue with this definition. How can clips that have been ripped directly from TV or a movie, and uploaded without any changes be considered user generated content?
Over on vcritic, he explains his thinking further…

Isn’t organising, recommending, rating or linking etc., in essence creating content? So we have user generated content and user organised content and user distributed content….people are content!

Well… yes, in a way. Recommending, rating or linking to content is in itself content, but it’s not the actual video content itself. A person who finds a good bit of video, and uploads it to YouTube is categorically not the creator of that content. If it were anything else, anybody who ever used Napster or Limewire or Kazaa to share an MP3 with others, could claim they were the creator of that Eminiem, Green Day or Metallica track. On the contrary, that person is simply the uploader, the researcher, the critic if you like.
Asi does go on to concede…

So, surely there are different levels of UGC and there is a big difference between uploading a 30sec clip from your favourite show to producing/directing/acting/editing/mash-uping a 5min video, but the way i see it, they are just the different end of the same UGC line.

He goes on to say however…

If someone bothered to cut and upload a beautiful goal, 9/11 dreadful moments, spoiled Paris, a classic scene from a movie etc. with the inttention of sharing it with the world then this is user generated content for me – as long as there is an individual (or peers) user/s on the other side that has uploaded the content without any marketing/profit intentions.

The issue of marketing or profit intentions is interesting, but I would suggest that User Generated Content CAN have profit or marketing intentions. Why the %$#! not? Isn’t that the whole plan?? Aren’t we all heading (and perhaps hoping?) for a place where talented user’s can create content, make money out of it, and stick it to the man???
I like Asi’s blog, and I like his intentions, but I can’t help but feel his definitions need some tweaking. It is misleading to suggest that 86% of the most watched videos on YouTube last month were user generated content, when many of those were simply direct copies off TV shows, movies etc.
I would be remiss not to finish this piece without of course my own definition of UGC… Anything else would be uncivilized.
In my opinion, user generated content is anything produced or remixed substantially by a user. It can contain content from other sources, just like music producers sample segments from records, it can even have all its content come from other places, just like TV show producers source material from stock libraries. But it must be sufficiently mashed up, edited, remixed, changed, or had significant value added to truly be called user generated content.

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