User generated online content

Description

Blogs, wikis, online forums and patient opinion sharing sites- these are all ways of people getting their own voices directly heard either by their peers or by experts. The content itself is varied, and can feature video, text, audio, still images, but the origin is always with the user. User generated content is now part of the landscape of the Internet, and the NHS should be aware of its emergence and the opportunities that such a movement may bring.

However, this trend does seem to have been embraced by younger more affluent audience in general and so should not be considered a catch all solution to encouraging active online participation. Participants from excluded groups should be actively encouraged to join in any official endeavours. User generated content has been growing in popularity for some time and this trend look set to continue.

NB. The term Web 2.0 is often used to refer to user generated content or participative media such as blogging (user-created web journals) - the definition of Web 2.0 continues to be disputed and actually takes in a far wider remit than simply user generated content.

Examples

Blogs, wikis, online forums and patient opinion sharing sites- these are all ways of people getting their own voices directly heard either by their peers or by experts. The content itself is varied, and can feature video, text, audio, still images, but the origin is always with the user. User generated content is now part of the landscape of the Internet, and the NHS should be aware of its emergence and the opportunities that such a movement may bring.

However, this trend does seem to have been embraced by younger more affluent audience in general and so should not be considered a catch all solution to encouraging active online participation. Participants from excluded groups should be actively encouraged to join in any official endeavours. User generated content has been growing in popularity for some time and this trend look set to continue.

NB. The term Web 2.0 is often used to refer to user generated content or participative media such as blogging (user-created web journals) - the definition of Web 2.0 continues to be disputed and actually takes in a far wider remit than simply user generated content.

Benefits and advantages

  • Flexibility in terms of timings of interaction- people can post messages to a forum or noticeboard, or add to their blog any time that is convenient to them.
  • Experiential learning such as expert patients’ programmes can be helpful and supportive in providing people with time and understanding.
  • People can fill in the gaps- if they have specific needs or concerns around for example a particularly rare condition, or a geographical area they can set up their own groups online.

Risks and disadvantages

  • “For some members of society it’s not touched them at all, and certainly some older people, you know, I think, are not engaged in that world at all. Although, you know, often it’s simply a matter of making a start.” Interviewee
  • Readers of such user-generated information may not fully understand its origins and the fact that the information may not be clinically accurate. For example, one interviewee pointed out an occasion where comments had been made on a large charity’s forum which had been taken by a reader to be endorsed by that charity- they were in fact incorrect assumptions.
  • “At the same time as finding ways to convey authority you need to be prepared to loosen up a bit- if you’re going to engage with the public they’re gonna say stuff that’s not strictly accurate, that’s not always going to be carefully crafted- you need to manage that. There are all sorts of ways. You can have ratings mechanisms for rating quality of content.”

 

 

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Armchair Involvement Guide 2009 

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