Content creation is the contribution of information to any media and most especially to digital media for an end-user/audience in specific contexts. Content is “something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing or any of various arts” for self-expression, distribution, marketing and/or publication. Typical forms of content creation include maintaining and updating web sites, blogging, article writing, photography, videography, online commentary, the maintenance of social media accounts, and editing and distribution of digital media. A Pew survey described content creation as the creation of “the material people contribute to the online world.”
News organizations, especially the biggest and more international, such as The New York Times, NPR, and CNN and others, consistently create some of the most shared content on the Web. This is especially true for content related breaking news and topical events. In the words of a 2011 report from the Oxford School for the Study of Journalism and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, “Mainstream media is the lifeblood of topical social media conversations in the UK.” While the rise of digital media has disrupted traditional news outlets, many have adapted, and have begun to produce content that is designed to function on the web and be shared by social media users. The social media site Twitter is a major distributor of breaking news in traditional formats, and many Twitter users are media professionals. The function and value of Twitter in the distribution of news is a frequent topic of discussion and research in journalism. User-generated content, social media blogging and citizen journalism have changed the nature of news content in recent years. The company Narrative Science is now using artificial intelligence to produce news articles and interpret data.
Academic institutions, such as colleges and universities, create content in the form of books, journal articles, white papers, and some forms of digital scholarship, such as blogs that are group edited by academics, class wikis, or video lectures that support a massive open online course (MOOC). Institutions may even make the raw data supporting their experiments or conclusions available on the Web through an open data initiative. Academic content may be gathered and made accessible to other academics or the public through publications, databases, libraries and digital libraries. Academic content may be closed source or open access (OA). Closed source content is only available to authorized users or subscribers. An important journal or a scholarly database may be closed source, available only to students and faculty through the institution’s library. Open access articles are open to the public, with the publication and distribution costs shouldered by the institution publishing the content.
Corporate content includes advertising and public relations content, as well as other types of content produced for profit, including white papers and sponsored research. Advertising can even include auto-generated content, blocks of content generated by programs or bots for search engine optimization. Companies also create annual reports which count as content creation as it is part of their company’s workings and a detailed review of their financial year. This gives the stakeholders of the company insight of the company’s current and future prospects and direction.
Cultural works, like music, movies, literature, and art, are also forms of content. Traditionally published books and e-books are one type of cultural content, but there are many others, such as self-published books, digital art, fanfiction, and fan art. Independent artists, including authors and musicians, have found commercial success by making their work available on the Internet. These changes have revolutionized the publishing and music industries.
Through digitization, sunshine laws, open records laws and data collection, governments may make whole classes of statistical, legal or regulatory information available on the Internet. National libraries and state archives turn historical documents, public records, and unique relics into online databases and exhibits. At times, this has raised significant privacy issues. For example, in 2012, The Journal News, a New York state paper, sparked outcry when it published an interactive map of gun owners’ locations using legally obtained public records. Governments also create online or digital propaganda or misinformation to support law enforcement or national security goals. This can go as far as astroturfing, or using media to create a false impression of mainstream belief or opinion.
Governments can also use open content, like public records and open data in the service of public health, educational and scientific goals, such as crowdsourcing solutions to complex policy problems, or processing scientific data. In 2013, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) joined asteroid mining company Planetary Resources to crowdsource the hunt for near-earth objects, asteroids that could threaten the Earth. Describing NASA’s crowdsourcing work in an interview, technology transfer executive David Locke spoke of the “untapped cognitive surplus that exists in the world” which could be used to help develop NASA technology. This is just one way crowdsourcing could be used to enhance public participation in government. In addition to making government more participatory, open records and open data have the potential to make government more transparent and less corrupt.
With the introduction of Web 2.0 came the possibility of content consumers being more involved in the generation and sharing of content. Also with the coming of digital media and the ease of access at home, the amount of user generated content has increased as well as the age and class range. Eight percent of Internet users are very active in content creation and consumption. Worldwide, about one in four Internet users are significant content creators, and users in emerging markets lead the world in engagement. Research has also found that young adults of a higher socioeconomic background tend to create more content than young adults from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Sixty-nine percent of American and European internet users are “spectators,” who consume—but don’t create—online and digital media. The ratio of content creators to the amount of content they generate is sometimes referred to as the 1% rule, a rule of thumb that suggests that only 1% of a forum’s users create nearly all of its content. Motivations for creating new content may include the desire to gain new knowledge, the possibility of publicity, or simple altruism, among other reasons. Users may also create new content in order to help bring about social reforms. However, researchers caution that in order to be effective, context must be considered, a diverse array of people must be included, and all users must participate throughout the process.
According to a 2011 study, minorities create content in order to connect with niche communities online. African-American users have been found to create content as a means of self-expression that was not previously available. Media portrayals of minorities are sometimes inaccurate and stereotypical which in turn affects the general perception of these minorities. African-Americans respond to their portrayals digitally through the use of social media like, Twitter and Tumblr. More importantly, the creation of Black Twitter has allowed a community to be able to share their problems and ideas.
Younger users now have more access to content and content creating applications and publishing to different types of media, for example, Facebook, DeviantArt, or Tumblr. As of 2005, around 21 million teens used the internet. Among these 57%, or 12 million teens, are Content Creators. This creation and sharing was happening at a far higher level than with adults. With the advent of the internet, teens have had far more access to tools for sharing and creating. Technology is also becoming cheaper and more accessible as well, making content creation far easier for everyone, including teens. Some teens use this to seek fame as social influencers through online platforms like YouTube, while others use it to connect to friends through social networking sites. Either way, this demographic is becoming more than just observers, they are creators as well.
The rise of anonymous and user-generated content presents both opportunities and challenges to Web users. Blogging, self-publishing and other forms of content creation give more people access to larger audiences. However, this can also perpetuate rumours and lead to misinformation. It can make it more difficult to find quality content that meets users’ information needs.
Digital content is difficult to organize and categorize. Websites, forums, and publishers all have different standards for metadata, or information about the content, such as its author and date of creation. The perpetuation of different standards of metadata can create problems of access and discoverability.
The ownership, origin, and right to share digital content can be difficult to establish. On one hand, user-generated content presents challenges to traditional content creators with regard to the expansion of unlicensed and unauthorized derivative works, piracy and plagiarism. On the other hand, the enforcement of copyright laws, such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the U.S., also make it less likely that works will fall into the public domain.
Content creation serves as a useful form of protest on social media platforms. The Egyptian revolution of 2011 was only one example of content creation being used to network protestors from all different parts of the world for the common cause of protesting the “authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa throughout 2011”. The protests took place in multiple cities in Egypt such as Cairo and what started out as peaceful quickly escalated into conflict. Social media outlets allowed protestors to network with each other across multiple regions to raise awareness of the widespread corruption in Egypt’s government and unite in rebellion. Youth activists promoting the rebellion were able to formulate a Facebook group, “Progressive Youth of Tunisia”.
Examples of more recent social media protesting through online content include the global widespread use of the hashtags #MeToo and #BLM to raise awareness and exact change for women and the black community.