Creating, Contributing Content Catching On

There’s no doubt that the Internet has changed the way millions of Americans live, work and play, but there is also a growing population that use the venue as a method of self-expression. According to research, a significant number of Internet users are creating Internet content, which includes everything from uploading pictures to posting to newsgroups to sophisticated coding to personal Web pages.

A Pew Internet & American Life Project report of more than 1,500 Internet users found that 44 percent have contributed material to the Internet, which translates to roughly 53 million individuals. Of those that published something online, 21 percent have uploaded photographs; 10 percent have posted to newsgroups; and 13 percent maintain their own Web sites. The controversy over file-sharing has not deterred the 20 percent who said they have allowed others to download music or video files from their computers.

Amanda Lenhart, research specialist at Pew Internet & American Life Project, comments, “I was a little surprised by the posting photos number, but with the steady drop in the prices of digital cameras, plus their increasing ease of use, I’m not shocked that it is the largest part of content creation online. Additionally the proliferation of user-friendly Web sites for photo sharing, both password protected and not, has made the posting of photos online as simple as taking them.”

Other activities include: posting written material on Web sites (17 percent); contributing material to Web sites run by their businesses (8 percent); Web cam usage (7 percent); posting artwork on Web sites (6 percent); and contributing material to sites created for their families (4 percent).


Demographics of Online
Content Creators
Men 51%
Women 49%
Whites 77%
Blacks 9%
Hispanics 9%
18-29 28%
30-49 48%
50-64 20%
65+ 4%
Household less
than $30k/year
19%
$30k-$50k 21%
$50k-$75k 17%
$75k+ 31%
Not HS grad 6%
HS grad 19%
Some college 29%
College degree+ 46%
Dial-up 63%
Broadband 37%
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

The Pew report identifies three distinct groups of online content publishers:

  • The Power creators: Their average age is 25 and they are enthusiastic content creators. They are more likely to use instant messaging, play games, download music, and blog.
  • Older creators: These experienced users have an average age of 58 and are highly educated, enjoy sharing pictures, and are the most likely of the creator groups to have built their own Web sites. They are also the most likely to have used the Internet for genealogical research.
  • Content omnivores: The average age of this group is 40 and they are among the heaviest overall users of the Internet. Most are employed; most log on frequently and spend considerable time online doing a variety of activities; and they are likely to have broadband connections at home.

Content creation via Web logs (blogs) only registered a scant 2 percent among the Internet population, according to Pew, with few updating on a regular schedule. The largest portion – 42 percent – claims to update their blog less often than every few weeks, while 4 percent post several times a day, and 6 percent post about once a day. One-quarter blogged every few weeks.

“I was truly shocked by the low blogging number. With all the attention being paid to blogs these days, it’s a surprise to see that everyone isn’t doing it. Still somewhere between 3 and 9 million Americans are blogging, it’s just not the tsunami of online journaling that I think it has been hyped up to be,” remarked Lenhart.

More Internet users are apt to read blogs than create their own. More than half of those surveyed (56 percent) reportedly read the blogs of friends; 46 percent read the blogs of strangers; and 25 percent visit family blogs.

Among the groups that have found their own personal space on the Web are kids aged 6 to 17 as Grunwald Associates has found. Roughly 10 percent (or 2 million) American children who have Internet access at home have their own personal Web sites – a threefold increase since 2000. The number of kids with personal sites is expected to rise to more than 6 million American children by 2005.


Kids as Webmasters
Have Site Plan Site
Ages 6-8 4% 28%
Ages 9-12 9% 33%
Ages 3-17 15% 29%
Ages 6-17 10% 30%
Base: Kids 6-17 with home access
Source: Grunwald Associates

No one area of content creation is expected to balloon in the near future, according to Lenhart, but online publishing will grow as a whole. “… I think different people create content in different ways – some of us are writers, some amateur shutterbugs, some are musicians, so the types of content we post will depend as much on who we are and how we express ourselves than on the technology.”

Lenhart expects broadband penetration and online tenure will be factors that contribute to increased Web publication. “…I think we’ll see a steady increase in creation of all kinds, particularly those [activities] dependant on having lots of bandwidth. Content creating that consumes the most bandwidth includes creating and posting large files of art images, audio files or video files.”

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