User Created Content


Student: SIWEN SHAO (Jennifer)

Tutor: Cherryldene Baylosis

Class: Thursday 6-9PM

User created content



In 2004, the concept of web 2.0 was presented at a brainstorming forum between publishers O’Reilly and MadiaLive Internatinal. Web 2.0 actively advocates personalization, which facilitates the emergence of the concept of user created content. By 2005, user created content gradually into people’s attention through the promotion of network publishing and new media publishing industry. With the widespread use of user-generated content, it gives birth to a series of new business, such as community networks, video sharing, document sharing, blog and so forth. In the process of user created content, the user is not just the user who passively receive the Internet information, but also is the producer who initiatively create the contents online. In this article, I will first elaborate Hinton & Hjorth’s (2013) framework of user created content and then develop my critical thinking of their framework. Finally, I will elaborate how we apply the user created content to our social media campaign “The Con” in this class and how it contributes to our work.

The Hinton & Hjorth’s framework of user created content

In the chapter four of Understanding Social Media, Hinton & Hjorth (2013) start with the idea of “participation as the central concept that underlies social media” to describe the relationship between participation and social media. Then, they illustrate how academic scholar have conceptualized the idea of users/producers and put forward a combination of ‘produser’ defined by Bruns. After explaining all of the above concepts, they finally begin to analyze user created content.

There are two participative behaviors, which are user generated content (UGC) and user created content (UCC). It seems that “generated” and “created” are synonyms, but actually they are distinctive. According to Hinton & Hjorth’s opinion, UGC refers to “users respond content made by other” while UCC means “the content is made by the user” (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). For example, it is a difference like user profile data and a well-crafted video that is uploaded to the internet with the purpose of being watched by users.

In this chapter, Hinton & Hjorth illustrate a number of examples to elaborate how user created content exerts significant impacts on crowd sourcing, citizen journalism and online activism. In terms of crowd sourcing, Hinton & Hjorth take the cases of the National Library of Australia and Wikipedia to demonstrate the power of crowds. For example, Wikipedia, as the world’s largest repository of knowledge, provide a platform for a crowd of users to share their knowledge of different fields. It allows anyone to have the access to write or edit a share document on this platform, which is different from the traditional encyclopedia that is strictly edited. In this part, Hinton & Hjorth also concern that due to a number of limitations such as “the inherent fallibility of crowds” and “disproportionate ability of individual or groups”, crowd-sourcing cannot guarantee the high quality of user created contents (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013).

4Wikipedia website: the world’s largest repository of knowledge

With the emergence of social media and the popularity of electronic devices like smartphone with high quality of camera, reporting the news is not only a job for the professional journalists with esoteric knowledge, the users are allowed to take pictures and videos to reporting an event in their own way. This phenomenon constitutes citizen journalism (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). Hinton & Hjorth take the London bombing in 2005 as the example, the BBC received a large number of images and videos from the public (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013, as cited in Stuart, 2007). In addition to mobile phone, Hinton & Hjorth also display a number of different forms of citizen journalism, such as blog enable the users to publish the news or events in their daily life and live tweeting make it possible for millions of people to follow an event at the same time. They argue that citizen journalism subverts the traditional model of news report and encourage increasing people without professional knowledge to participate in reporting the events, but it also brings several debates, such as the unreliability of the source, the lack of professional knowledge and the lack of transparency of traditional news media (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013).

In addition to crowd sourcing and citizen journalism, user created content also play a significant role in online activism. In this part, Hinton & Hjorth start with the example of Zapatistas to help readers understand what online activism is. Then, they put forward the concept of “democratising internet” and explain because of that, people are free to share and engage with their ideas regarding various issues on social media, which contributes to the rise of online activism. Taking the examples of Arab Spring uprising and the Occupy Wall Street movement, Hinton & Hjorth further elaborate how social media play a crucial role in assisting activists to disseminate political and social dissent. By the end of this part, they also point out some problem with online activism. The case of Kony 2012 makes people realize that social media allows campaigns to be organized quickly so that people cannot have enough time to fully understand the whole story from beginning to end (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013).

The critical thinking of Hinton & Hjorth’s framework

Hinton & Hjorth compare the distinction between UGC and UCC, but these is a failure to give a detailed introduction of the characteristics of user created content. In 2007, OECD published a report titled Participative Web and User-Created Content: Web 2.0, Wiki and Social Networking and defined the three dimensions of user created content:

  1. Publication requirement: the work that should be published on a publicly accessible website or on a page on a social networking site only accessible to a select group of people. This characteristic excludes email, two-way instant message and the like.
  2. Creative effort: a certain amount of creative effort should be considered into creating the work or adapting existing work to build a new one, which means users should add their own value to the work.
  3. Creation outside of professional routines and practices: User created content is generally created outside of professional routines and practices, which means UGC should be produced by non-professionals and institutions (OECD, 2007).

In addition, Hinton & Hjorth do not classify the users systematically. According to Dijck (2009), he argues that users can be divided into recipients and participants from a cultural perspective; users can be classified with amateurs and professionals from the perspective of labor relations; from economics perspective, users can be zoned as producers and consumers. DeSanctis (2006) divides users into three categories, which are individual users, group users and community group. In Hinton & Hjorth’s framework of user created content, users are just considered as producers and there is no systematic classification to help readers better understand what users are in the concept of user created content.

3The example of Bilibili website: one of most popular video website in china

Hinton & Hjorth focus more on the use and influence of user created and neglect motivations for creating UCC. According to Smadja’s (2009) view, the motivations can be classified with implicit incentives and explicit incentive. The former does not any form. By contrast, the latter is based on rewards, including financial payment, a free ticket, a coupon and so on. For example, Bilibili, as one of the most popular video website in china, it has more than 150 million active users and over 10 million original videos. Everyone is free to register an account but if you want to get access to other use functions including comment with other videos or upload your own videos with high definition, you must upload more your original videos to acquire a higher level. The higher level you are, the more use functions you can operate.

UCC and social media campaign “The Con”

The pictures are screenshots from Twitter.

视频截图1This picture is screen shot of from our video on YouTube

In this semester, we are assigned to construct and deploy a social media campaign to promote the University of Sydney’s Conservatory of Music in order to attract more young students to listen their concert. We choose Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WeChat as our main social platforms. In order to attract more our target audience, the international students to engage with our campaign, we come up with a number of strategies that are related to the UCC. According to Hinton & Hjorth’s framework of UCC, social media provide a platform for the users to create their own contents online in the patterns of images, videos, pictures, text and so on. We post information about the con with memes and emoji, share images and e-poster on social media. We also make two videos with our key message of classical music is borderless and upload them on YouTube. By sharing our created works on these social media, we hope that other users have interested in participating in the concert.


Hinton, S., & Hjorth, L. (2013). Participation and User Created Content. In Understanding Social Media (pp. 55 – 76). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Networking, S. (2007). Participative Web and User-Created Content. Web 2.0, Wikis and Social Networking, Paris: OECD.

OECD. Participative web and user created content (UCC): New report from organization for economic co-operation and development [OL]. [2008-10-23]. http://www.biac.org/members/iccp/mtg/2008-06-seoul-min/9307031E.pdf

Dijck, J. V. (2009). Users like you? theorizing agency in user-generated content. Media Culture & Society, 31(1), 41-58.

Desanctis G. Who is the user? Individuals, groups and communities [C] // Zhang P, Galletta D. M E Shape, Armonk, NY, Human-Computer Interaction and Management Information System: Foundations, 2000: 45-55.


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