a study today by Hitwise – sent to me by Steve, a guy I work with who blogs at Open House – has identified the degree to which people consume rather than create user-generated content in a Web 2.0 world. analysis of online surfing data by Bill Tancer showed that only 0.16% of visits to YouTube were by users seeking to upload rather then consume content. similarly only 0.20% of visits to Flickr are to upload pics.
this shouldn’t come as a surprise. the history of media (and indeed the history of our culture and society) is one of content being created by the few and consumed by the masses. we can speculate to what extent all early homo sapiens were intuitive cave painters, but early on it was established that a few created cultural and social content for the mass. from Michaelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling to Josh Schwartz’s OC (the last episode of which was tragically broadcast in the UK last week – it had so much more to give!), the few have always created for consumption by the mass. the figures today simply reflect that universal constant.
this cap on creation was historically down, I suppose, to two factors: firstly ability – not everyone is a Gaudí or Tolkien. but secondly it was determined by an individuals capacity to create and the resources available to them. Classical artists were commissioned and funded by the Christian Church, Schwartz was commissioned and funded by Warner Bros. creation comes at a cost (be it resources or time), and not everyone can afford.
the latter of these influences has been eradicated by a combination of the fall in the cost of production and production tools, and the ability for the first time – courtesy of Web 2.0, for an amateur to distribute that content on a mass scale. today’s figures can’t and shouldn’t undermine that… Web 2.0 allows anyone to create and distribute movies, pictures, art and opinions. the effect on our culture and society is already being felt and will only increase.
but crucially the former cap still applies. despite what most of us would like to hope, not many of us has the potential to create content which will be as universally lauded (or as profitable) as a Donatello or a Shakespeare… a fact of life for which I suspect commercial media distribution networks are more than a little thankful.
the original Hitwise article can be read here.