TJ Kelly

On You-Witnesses

It seems that user-involvement can’t go far enough. From the earliest message boards to chatrooms, to online networking, to wiki software, blogging and vlogging, user-generated content seems to be in high demand, and only getting higher.

Yahoo and Reuters recently announced a new service (or product) known as "You-Witness News," in which people are asked to submit digital camera footage or cell phone camera pictures of any news-worthy event to Yahoo news’ website.

From a news/media perspective, it’s a great idea. Instant access to news from real eye-witnesses, average Americans just doing their part to help inform the masses.

But from a critical perspective, isn’t this just another step (or maybe a giant leap) in the direction information-as-commodity behavior? And, since news productions, just like every other media program, are simply content designed to attract viewers in an effort to sell products through advertising, the real commodity being sold here is the consumer or viewer.

How’s this for a perfect circle? Now users are being encouraged to actively participate in generating the very thing which lures them into becoming a tradable commodity. You-Witness. You-View. You-Get-Sold.

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