Editor’s note: Guest contributor Joseph Puopolo is an entrepreneur and startup enthusiast, who blogs on a variety of topics including green initiatives, technology and marketing.
The content creation class shall inherit the Internet. Richard Florida coined the expression the “Creative Class”, his belief being that these some 30 to 40 million would be the driving force for economic development in a postindustrial world. Instead of driving the macro economy the Content Creation Class refers to the group of people who drive content on the internet those that write blogs, those that upload video to YouTube, and those that upload pictures to share with the world.
The Internet is a key segment within this postindustrial world identified by Florida. Since the emergence of Webernets, two distinct classes that have emerged — those that create content and those who consume it. For every content creator there are far more individuals that consume content. Like other class systems, there are inherent advantages or disadvantages with each class. While content creators have had their share of benefits, the concept of mass content creation also comes with its own risks.
The rise of the content creation class
Content creators have enjoyed advantages over content consumers since the dawn of the internet. They enjoy higher amounts of influence; they have the potential to earn more money and fame. The only prerequisite to be part of this class is to create content; you do not need to be creative, correct or even factual. Bloggers are a great example of this — some blog just for blogging’s sake, while others have made it into a career or in some cases a successful business.
Whether it is through paid promotion, advertisement or Google Adwords, people make thousands or tens of thousands of dollars monthly creating content on their blog. This system is has been used and abused by paid bloggers and those looking to bend the Google algorithm to their will to bend a torrent of traffic to their respective site. Thin content is a common problem, and parasitic to the Internet as a whole. It is still however, a part of content on the web, good or bad.
Filling the content vacuum
The content vacuum requires new content and it doesn’t seem to matter what it is. People will consume it. This isn’t to say that the better content won’t command more eyes, but even bad content will find viewers. This is another key differentiation between the creative class, you don’t need to necessarily be creative or factually correct to create information on the Internet.
The reality is those that create either good or bad content will still see a benefit from it. A prime example is YouTube, there is tons of questionable videos that garner hundreds of thousands of views. As eyes continue to shift from traditional channels and to the Internet, there is tons of potential to fill the web with content good and bad, which in reality mirrors society on the whole.
Social media has changed the content creation paradigm
Social media has added a new dimension to content creation and changed the paradigm. While it has allowed many more people to become creators, it has also magnified existing content creators to previously unheard of levels. Whenever a key creator puts out a new piece of content, hoards of followers are ready and waiting to magnify that content even further.
There is also a question of equivalency, what is more important or relevant, 10,000 microblogs (140 character tweets) or 10 to 20 2,000 word blogs? While the barrier to become a content creator is now lowered, it also increased the ability to adept content creators to be even more effective using new tools. These tools have been used to push people from the background to center stage.
From obscurity to fame or infamy
People can literally create their own 15 minutes of fame (or infamy) through content creation on the Internet. There have been countless pieces of content that have come from obscure blogs to become national news. Bloggers without an established network to distribute their content have had various distribution mechanisms tip influence to their favor. Teens have been able to distinguish themselves from the crowd and gain further notoriety by building a blog presence — heck, Justin Bieber was discovered via his videos on YouTube.
Internet content creation has almost become a feeder system to more traditional media outlets. The content creation class is driven by a sense of meritocracy and the thrill of letting the mob decide whether you get a thumbs up or down. While cute kittens are driving eyes, it isn’t just the cute and cuddly that is catching attention on the web. A content creator has emerged to serve each niche and some are finding big business around it, especially mom bloggers.
As new trends emerge, new laws follow
This rise of the content creator class has led to the rise of some new issues, though. For example, those who record videos have been opened up to prosecution. In the last two years there have been incidences of people being arrested for filming activities of policemen on duty.
The reality is, in today’s world you have to assume if there is something going on, there is likely a person with a camera or a video camera in their phone to capture it. Courts have now become involved in determining what content is legal. Recently, the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a ruling that would make it illegal to film on-duty cops. Content creation has become an important check and balance for democracy or internationally, those trying to achieve democracy.
Content creators internationally
Internationally, content creators were simultaneously exalted and persecuted this year in Egypt and the rest of the Middle East. One could make the argument that without social media and content created by individuals, people vying for freedom would not have been able to maintain momentum in their cause. Yet at the same time, anyone posting content in these situations has cause to fear for their lives.
This article speaks to that some of the issues surrounding this. When journalists are not able to expose what is going on during uprisings, citizen journalists take on a lot of risks to ensure the world knows about their plight. They have adeptly help cut through the fog of war. That ability to shed light on dire circumstance provides those individuals with power and influence over many both locally and internationally. This is especially true when this information becomes the fuel for governmental policy or even military action.
While handheld devices has made it easier for all to become content creators there will continue to be an inherent divide in who chooses to participate in content creation shared to the masses. A new class system has quietly emerged. The content creation class will continue to enjoy greater advantages, but like anyone sticking out their neck they will also face challenges. Anyone who creates content has the potential of being judged, either by a snarky comment or a legal court and that fear is what segments the Internet into two groups, the content creators and the content consumers.
Excerpt image from WinsonYeung.com