John McCann

Teens create content for the net

In Content workers, Culture & society on April 6, 2006 at 12:17 pm

Recent research by the Pew Foundation focused on content creation and the resuls are reported in the report "Teen Content Creation and Consumers." The report makes the point that it is increasingly common for teens to create content for the Internet. The key here is for the Internet. As outlined in a previous post, we all create content as part of our daily lives. But creating content for, and distributing it on, the Internet is the new phenomenon. This point is clear in the following material from the 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.

Create, mix and share … those are the common activities. The report tells us that over one-half of today's teens participate in this practice through several activities.

More than half of all online teens who go online create content for the internet. Among internet-using teens, 57% (or 50% of all teens, roughly 12 million youth) are what might be called Content Creators. They report having done one or more of the following content- creating activities: create a blog; create a personal webpage; create a webpage for school, a friend, or an organization; share original content they created themselves online; or remix content found online into a new creation.

The practice of remixing online content has created a "remix culture" that is championed by many people, including Larry Lessig, a Stanford law professor. Wikipedia contains an entry about his position.

Remix culture is a term employed by Lawrence Lessig to describe a society which allows and encourages derivative works. Such a culture would be, by default, permissive of efforts to improve upon, change, integrate, or otherwise remix the work of copyright holders. Lessig presents this as a desirable ideal and argues, among other things, that the health, progress, and wealth creation of a culture is fundamentally tied to this participatory remix process.

The beauty of a remix culture is that creativity feeds creativity. You create something that spurs me to create something that builds upon it. I may put your creative expression, your creative content, together with mine to produce something entirely new.

Whether through pure creativity or some form of remix, today's teens are participating in the Internet-based content creation in new and exciting ways. I wonder where this will lead when they move into their twenties.

  1. Remix culture is the most important development of the internet age (IMHO). Places like, and are making great strides in involving all sorts of artists in the Commons, and the concept of “mixversations”.

    I just recently did an interview with Lawrence Lessig for my site, He’s a suprisingly humble guy.

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