Dec 202007

Woman pointsWell a bit of a pompous title perhaps, fueled by a report just published by Pew Internet (one of my fav research groups) who reminded me of something a few of us have been bleating on about for a while – that the last 200 years of media distribution have been an anomaly. Dominated by scarecity of broadcast, one-to-many channels and power-to-the-few editorial, the way ‘stories’ have been shared have been a blip in human evolution. The limited pipes that have led the way are now being eroded as more and more of the ‘connected’ (Gen C, Y particularly) see spending most time sharing their conversation and inherent creativity as a natural, immersive activity. They see their expression being filtered by commissioners, moderators and editors as unnatural and alien. The best ‘creators’ will be able to charge for their work which is valued highly by their interest groups, they are what we used to call professionals. Also groups of people who ‘manage’ the best creators will grow and die organically in the connected community and they are what we used to call studios, music A&R departments and broadcasters.

Anyway to the report, PDF here, which simply shows how making stuff and sharing it over the global network is second nature to the ‘connected’ generations.

“Content creation by teenagers continues to grow, with 64% of online teenagers ages 12 to 17 engaging in at least one type of content creation, up from 57% of online teens in 2004….The survey found that content creation is not just about sharing creative output; it is also about participating in conversations fueled by that content. Nearly half (47%) of online teens have posted photos where others can see them, and 89% of those teens who post photos say that people comment on the images at least “some of the time.”

We are also seeing in social networks that have simple tools to create, Second Life is a good example, 30-40% of the time in those spaces are spent making stuff. Humans are just natural builders, talkers and peer controlled tribal entities – that won’t be affected by 200 years of limited channels. I often hear traditionalists say ‘the community will never create the film The Titanic”. Consider groups of talented community creators creating content that will want to be seen by more people than those marketed at to go see the film Titanic and then the value of any piece of content becomes driven by the collective. The long tail may start to flatten and invert. As to production value, yes good training will never be questioned, but the best equipment and the cost of experimentation is dropping dramatically and the price of iterative, create, learn from mistakes, create better is within the reach of many. Back to the report which reinforces my mild rant two posts ago where I reacted against some PhD folk at a conference I was presenting at who said Web 2.0 participation doesn’t exist because only 1% of people create stuff. Well this Gen C, Y research suggests otherwise and participation does actually mean a lot more than just uploading a ‘meaningful’ video (the example they gave of what the pinnacle of community input is – heritage media thinking) – in fact, as many strategists and social network gurus state, the conversation is now the content not the form or device it is delivered through.

There is a subset of teens who are super-communicators — teens who have a host of technology options for dealing with family and friends, including traditional landline phones, cell phones, texting, social network sites, instant messaging, and email. They represent about 28% of the entire teen population and they are more likely to be older girls.

The report post here. Again good job Pew

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2007


  5 Responses to “Humanity Slowly Returns to Creativity – 64% of teenagers engage in content creation”

  1. I find the notion of media scarcity being a blip in human history very interesting, particularly the questions of whether the Titanic or The Lord of the Rings could be made by a collective, because I think, in a sense, they were made by collectives.

    I realise that you probably mean control of media as in the music industry controlling songs that used to be things sung around a piano, or broadcasters controlling stories that used to be things told around a fire. But there were also colossal undertakings, in human history, such as Cathedrals, that were actually made collectively, over life times. Everyone put in their money (collection baskets) their skills, their passions. Yes, there was probably an architect, but that person, in many cases is not even known any more. What is known is that hundreds of people toiled collectively to build Notre Dame. So here’s the thing: The Lord of the Rings is our contemporary version of a cathedral. It is, to some, a place of worship, but to most it is a place of common beliefs and social interaction. More importantly, it is actually made collectively. When you consider that fully 10 percent of the entire population of New Zealand was involved in that production in some way, you have to believe this is a co-creative community. Working on the contemporary version of a cathedral.

    Where this argument comes back to the blip in human history is this: with this many craftspeople au fait with the process of making something, our skill base, and consciousness are changing, or changing back to the notion that media making, like stonemasonry might have been in the middle ages, is just something you do. You do it for your own work, you trade skills with your friends, you do it for a job, great works becomes Notre Dame, not great work gets bulldozed, eventually, to make room for more. The explosion of media creativity is, in part anyway, due to the explosion in media skills and professions, teens training themselves to make media are just going through the contemporary versions of high school. In a traditional high-school you can read and write when you get out, and you may do so professionally or in your personal time or in some combination. In the new media high school educations teens are creating for themselves on their PC’s, professional and personal may blur, combine and produce something new again… like new media!

    p.s. Tropfest is a massively multiplayer screen media game

  2. Thanks Karen. You get under the surface of my rather hazy first post a lot more. I totally agree that media and other worthwhile creations have been made in co-creative communities but you pointed out the crux of my argument, that the channels to share those have been rather, constrained in recent centuries. The one-to-many systems have created a shared perception of production value over actual substance – so we have wonderfully looking, excellently produced – nothingness. Especially wall paper, formulaic TV programming, purely designed to keep you passive and funnel you into ad breaks.

    But that is changing and as you say the generation C’s coming up with the skills to tell their stories using traditional AND new media techniques, will not be required to pass through the ‘broadcast’ gatekeeper (music A&R, film studio, TV company, book publisher) to reach its audience.

    It will be interesting in this new production, co-creative paradigm to see what the definition of professional is – I think it will change, and it is obvious if you think about it, to being more along the lines of, enough people go to see what I make and the advertisers or other content creators pay me directly to place their messages alongside it. Of course that is how they make their living, the only thing that has really changed is the middle ‘people’ which in the case of Lord of the Rings probably got most of the royalties as they control the distribution channel, as opposed to a proportional split, based on creative input, across 10% of New Zealand?

  3. Humanity returning to creativity, after 200yr dominance of channels. Good read!

  4. Humanity Slowly Returns to Creativity – 64% of teenagers engage in content creation

  5. […] Humanity Slowly Returns to Creativity – 64% of teenagers engage in content creation Web 2.0 and the Myth of Non-Participation […]

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