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

Nov 042005

Zabriske ©Gary Hayes  2005Pew Internet & American Life Project have just published (2 Nov) a really interesting research paper called “Teen Content Creators and Consumers” with some great stats for those of us involved in grappling with the trends of user generated content amongst other things. Conceiving and implementing new services over broadband or advanced TV systems means we have to think carefully about many things but the most important is your audience. Admittedly this report is very US web centric (read: applicable to the rest of the world a few years later?) but there are some real eye-openers. The audience in this report are 12-17 year olds who will of course be both drivers and consumers of emerging media in a few years – what they do now we can potentially map onto the next decade. I also refer to a report Pew did in July on Teens and Tech and pull together key groupings in both reports as they overlap – so it is a bit of a mash-up of the two reports. I start with the stunning US statistic that 21 million 12 to 17 year olds (nearly 90%) regularly use the internet – 11 million daily. Here is an introductory quote from the latest report

Thanks to the internet, American teenagers can engage media material and create their own content in ways their parents could not. Today’s online teens live in a world filled with self-authored, customized, and on-demand content, much of which is easily replicated, manipulated, and redistributable. The internet and digital publishing technologies have given them the tools to create, remix, and share content on a scale that had previously only been accessible to the professional gatekeepers of broadcast, print, and recorded media outlets.

After digesting the reports I broke the stats into key groups as below which helps me at least get some sense of trend. (My comments and links below)

User generated content (blogs, homepages, artwork, photos, stories, video, mashups)
– 57% of online teens create internet content
– A quarter of online teens have their own webpages/blogs (over 4 million generators) vs 7% of adults! (30% update it at least 3 times a week)
– 45% have used IM to send personal photos
– Old teen girls are the heaviest generators of blogs, over a quarter of 15-17 girls keep blogs
– Teen bloggers are big sharers – upto 3 times more likely to create and share than non bloggers and are more ‘copyright’ aware

Consuming user generated content
– Over one third of teens regularly read blogs
– 62% only read blogs from those they already know! Only 2% read blogs from those they don’t.
– 38% of older girls share self-generated content vs 29% of boys

Consuming ‘professional’ content
– 81% play online games (17 million) – compared with 32% of online adults
– 71% get news online
– 51% regularly download music files and 31% download video
– Older boys (15-17) are the dominant music downloaders

Device usage
– 84% of all teenagers own at least one personal media device
– 44% own two or more PM devices
– 18% of teens in US have a laptop
– Three quarters of teens go online in shared, family areas of their home
– 45% have a mobile phone vs 68% of adults

– Older girls (15-17) lead in use of email, text, IM etc:
– Exactly a third of all teens in US send SMS – dominated by older girls
– Over half using IM have included a link to a website in their messages
– 31% of teens use IM to send music or video files vs 5% of adults
– Teens prefer IM to email and 75% use it vs 42% of adults
– Nearly half of IM teens have more than one screen name and 60% use icons or avatars
– Nearly 40% have pretended to be someone else on IM

Lots of statistics to get ones head around sure. To finish with some findings that stand out for me on first pass collating them – apart from the basic eye-opening numbers. Through the act of sharing teens become more aware of copyright issues – a strategy to reduce piracy perhaps, get them to make stuff to realise the value of ‘taking’ stuff. That young bloggers become content creators – might be obvious, but the ease of use of self-publishing tools obviously generators a comfort zone and encourages other forms of self-expression and sharing, so simple tools to make ‘pro-looking/sounding’ content will always be a good idea for service creators.

The last statistic that stood like the proverbial sore thumb was what blogs teens read. Amazingly only 2% read blogs from people they don’t know! Does this suggest a slightly blinkered view of the world or that they perceive blogs are being more about ‘personal thought’ than ‘information and broadening horizons’. I suppose given the natural parental concern (the “my kid has a public diary!” mentality) which is also referred to in the report means that they are discouraged from reading stranger blogs. It seems in the US at least much of the user generated revolution is an extension of their normal peer networks – the July report mentions that teens have a average of 20 dedicated friends in their network and this is reflected in their IM buddy list which are indeed those friends.

As at the end of the best ‘dodgy’ 1950s TV dramas (and Springer), the epilogue – there is a distinct shift in human communication happening of course led by this next generation. Teens in these reports are spending nearly as much time physically with their friends (10hrs) as virtually (8hrs). Their ‘virtual comm’ preferences also show that although the phone is still a dominant force IM is 2-10 times preferred than face-to-face when wanting to chat, talk about private things or critical conversation. What are the implications of this? I will leave that to further debate, one thing is sure though – in terms of keeping in touch with multiple people at the same time we are all having to develop strategies in our time poor worlds, teens are already someway down the road in using cross-media to do this. IM is a preferred multi-strand narrative route for them, blogging perhaps a way to track/archive and tell their own stories and easy media creation tools a way to self-express, make and share original material. Learning to personalize their world and their media for friends and family means a generation of trained communicators, and that is definitely a good thing.

Links to studies
Teen Content Creators and Consumers – 2 Nov 2005
Direct PDF link

Teens and Technology – 27 July 2005
Direct PDF link

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005