Published on Tuesday, October 5 2010
Photo by Alun Salt - http://www.flickr.com/photos/alun/253596595/
Last week Forrester Research published an update to their popular (and useful) Social Technographics report which showed that- depending on which pronouncements you read- seemed to indicate that online social activity had reached a plateau, or was even shrinking. Just a quick sample:
- PCWorld said: “This year, a smaller percentage of U.S. Internet users are contributing to social media sites” and argued that “companies need to find ways to re-engage those U.S. Internet users who have stopped participating on their social media sites”
- CNN reported that “the report . . . says people joining online social networks aren’t uploading videos, posting status updates and engaging in conversations like those before them”
- Raymond Nuez at the Huffington Post went so far as to title his piece “Where have all the content creators gone?”
- VerticalLeap in the UK went with “content generation activity fading among social network users“
- ReadWriteWeb summarized it as “Social networking users are creating less content” and followed Forrester’s Jacqueline Anderson in suggesting that this is cause for concern because (their subhead) “Fewer Creators Mean Fewer Ideas”
Arguably all the fuss has its origin in a blog post on Forrester’s site announcing the new report, which notes:
many groups in the US market plateaued. Creators, the group that is actually adding content to the Internet, are one example of this lack of growth.
(Though she does note they still represent 41 million US online adults). She goes on to conclude:
The story behind the data is pretty clear. The initial wave of consumers using social technologies in the US has halted. Companies will now need to devise strategies to extend social applications past the early adopters.
Looking at the numbers in the actual report, though, shows a much more muted story. Yes, the percentage of US Online Adults identified as creators did change from 24% to 23% between the 2009 survey and the 2010 survey. This is the core data point folks latched on to (this plus a change in critics from 37% to 33%, and a rise of inactives from 18% to 19%). But does this mean we’re all fresh out of new ideas? Nothing new being created on the web? No more activity from “the group that is actually adding content to the internet” (as opposed to merely commenting, repeating, critiquing, consuming, and lurking around)?
Published on Friday, October 12 2007
I’ve written several times before on Jenkins – he’s a major guru I think of the new media shift. If you haven’t read Convergence Culture go do so now.
Today he’s one of the keynotes at the Forrester Consumer Forum
I’m here as the token EggHead of the event. I always go where no humanist has gone before.
If you want to understand the web now, you need to hire humanities grads – the questions about the web used to be technical questions, but now they are social and cultural questions – the kinds of things studied by liberal arts grads.
Describe Web 2.0 in 2 sentences or less:
“You make all the content. They keep all the revenue.”
Convergence culture is a world where every story, image, sound, idea, brand, and relationship will play itself out across all possible media platforms.
Along with convergence culture is participary culture – he actually used this slide:
Which is user generated content which originally came from this presentation.
The question now is really what can I do with your product.
We hear about people worried about losing control – the reality is you lost it long ago. Consumers can take your content and remix it and share it and publish it almost as publically as you can. You can sue, and shut a few people down, but the genie is out of the bottle.
The ability for “us” to control and remake content and republish it at an equivalent quality and fidelity as large media brands is fundamentally and radically different than previous eras of media.
But large media and brands have a place as well -all the parodies of the mac ads circulate in part because everyone knows the original.
There’s also great innovation going on here in terms of fan practices and how they are cocreating value.
There are all kinds of low cost experiments which remix the raw materials our culture provides and you can support and cultivate these in dialog – not shut them down.
Four Eyed Mosters and collaborative curating – creating a market for your product before it is even released.
Wizard Rock – over 200 wizard rock groups using myspace to create music with reference to Harry Potter – a whole genre of widely listened-to music that did not exist before it came bottom up, not top down.
Any platform that can be used to trade cat pictures can bring down a government – Ethan Zuckerman.
The fundamental questions are all about what this new participatory and convergent culture will be like.
The story of Fanlib – a company which wanted to create a commercial portal to distribute fan fiction – and some of the fans are revolting – they don’t want a commercial entity to run this.
Fanlib committed several obvious mistakes – 80% of the fan fiction writers are women, but the ad campaign was all men. The company told fans it wanted to empower them, but to corporate rights holders they were telling a different story – complete control, staying within the lines.
The community didn’t like the idea of things being regulated, commercialized, and brought into the lines.
Example of Stephen Colbert – but his studio sends a cease and desist to YouTube – different parts of the same company have different ideas of what this means. That is the current state of convergence culture.
One quick plug at the end for the Futures of Entertainment 2 conference.
Q: Is copyright dead?
A: No, but it is evolving. In the future, companies will have every right to protect their content but every incentive to let it go. It isn’t that they don’t have legal right but they should not use it.
Q: Is participatory culture even across the world?
A. Not even, but global. When the media folks went after Harry Potter fan fiction in Poland and Thailand, the kids in the US knew about it immediately. In some ways this group is more connected and interactive than anyone else. But there are other countries which are clearly left out. This is a global phenomenon, but not one in which everyone in the world participates equally.
Q: To what extent should brands try to control / engage in negative discussions about their brand?
A: You can’t shut it down. Your best response is to do something about what you’ve done that people are criticizing you for. If it is a misperception get out there and correct it – if it is an accurate criticism change the behavior.