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Content creation

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Content creation is the act of producing and sharing information or media content for specific audiences, particularly in digital contexts. According to Dictionary.com, content refers to "something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing or any of various arts"[1] for self-expression, distribution, marketing and/or publication. Content creation encompasses various activities including maintaining and updating web sites, blogging, article writing, photography, videography, online commentary, social media accounts, and editing and distribution of digital media. In a survey conducted by Pew, content creation was defined as "the material people contribute to the online world."[2]

Content creators[edit]

News organizations[edit]

News organizations, especially those with a large and global reach like The New York Times, NPR, and CNN, consistently create some of the most shared content on the Web, especially in relation to current 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."[3] 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 on social media. The social media site Twitter is a major distributor and aggregator of breaking news from various sources, and the function and value of Twitter in the distribution of news is a frequent topic of discussion and research in journalism.[4] User-generated content, social media blogging and citizen journalism have changed the nature of news content in recent years.[5] The company Narrative Science is now using artificial intelligence to produce news articles and interpret data.[6]

Colleges, universities, and think tanks[edit]

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). Through an open data initiative, institutions may make raw data supporting their experiments or conclusions available on the Web. 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. For example, an important journal or a scholarly database may be a 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 also include auto-generated content, with blocks of content generated by programs or bots for search engine optimization.[7] Companies also create annual reports which are part of their company's workings and a detailed review of their financial year. This gives the stakeholders of the company insight into the company's current and future prospects and direction.[8]

Artists and writers[edit]

Cultural works, like music, movies, literature, and art, are also major forms of content. Examples include traditionally published books and e-books as well 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.[9]


Through digitization, sunshine laws, open records laws and data collection, governments may make 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. This has raised significant privacy issues.[10] In 2012, The Journal News, a New York state paper, sparked outcry when it published an interactive map of the state's gun owner locations using legally obtained public records.[11] Governments also create online or digital propaganda or misinformation to support domestic and international goals. This can include astroturfing, or using media to create a false impression of mainstream belief or opinion.[12]

Governments can also use open content, such as public records and open data, in service of public health, educational and scientific goals, such as crowdsourcing solutions to complex policy problems.[13] In 2013, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) joined asteroid mining company Planetary Resources to crowdsource the hunt for near-Earth objects.[14] 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.[15] In addition to making governments more participatory, open records and open data have the potential to make governments more transparent and less corrupt.[16]


The introduction of Web 2.0 made it possible for content consumers to be more involved in the generation and sharing of content. With the advent of digital media, the amount of user generated content, as well as the age and class range of users, has increased. 8% of Internet users are very active in content creation and consumption.[17] Worldwide, about one in four Internet users are significant content creators,[18] and users in emerging markets lead the world in engagement.[19] Research has also found that young adults of a higher socioeconomic background tend to create more content than those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.[20] 69% of American and European internet users are "spectators," who consume—but don't create—online and digital media.[19] 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.[21] Users may also create new content in order to 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.[22]

According to a 2011 study, minorities create content in order to connect with their 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 affects the general perception of these minorities.[23] African-Americans respond to their portrayals digitally through the use of social media such as Twitter and Tumblr. The creation of Black Twitter has allowed a community to share their problems and ideas.[24]


Younger users now have greater access to content, content creating applications, and the ability to publish to different types of media, such as Facebook, Blogger, Instagram, DeviantArt, or Tumblr.[25] As of 2005, around 21 million teens used the internet and 57%, or 12 million teens, consider themselves content creators.[26] This proportion of media creation and sharing is higher than that of adults. With the advent of the Internet, teens have had more access to tools for sharing and creating content. Increase in accessibility to technology, especially due to lower prices, has led to an increase in accessibility of content creation tools as well for teens.[27] Some teens use this to become content creators through online platforms like YouTube, while others use it to connect to friends through social networking sites.[28]



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 rumors and lead to misinformation. It can make it more difficult to find quality content that meets users' information needs.

The feature of user-generated content and personalized recommendation algorithms of digital media also gives a rise to confirmation bias. Users may tend to seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs and ignore information that contradicts them. This can lead to one-sided, unbalanced content that does not present a complete picture of an issue.

The quality of digital contents varies from traditional academic or published writing. Digital media writing is often more engaging and accessible to a broader audience than academic writing, which is usually intended for a specialized audience. Digital media writers often use a conversational tone, personal anecdotes, and multimedia elements like images and videos to enhance the reader's experience. For example, the veteran populist anti-EU campaigner Farage's tweets in 2017–2018 used a lot of colloquial expressions and catchphrases to resonate the “common sense” with audiences.[29]

At the same time, digital media is also necessary for professional (academic) communicators to reach an audience,[30] as well as with connecting to scholars in their areas of expertise.[31]

The quality of digital contents is also influenced by capitalism and market-driven consumerism.[32] Writers may have commercial interests that influence the content they produce. For example, a writer who is paid to promote a particular product or service may write articles that are biased in favor of that product or service, even if it is not the best option for the reader.  


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 accessibility and discoverability.


Digital writing and content creation has evolved significantly. This has led to various ethical issues, including privacy, individual rights, and representation.[33] A focus on cultural identity has helped increase accessibility, empowerment, and social justice in digital media, but might also prevent users from freely communicating and expressing.[33]

Intellectual property[edit]

The ownership, origin, and right to share digital content can be difficult to establish. User-generated content presents challenges to traditional content creators (professional writers, artists, filmmakers, musicians, choreographers, etc.) with regard to the expansion of unlicensed and unauthorized derivative works, piracy and plagiarism. Also, the enforcement of copyright laws, such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the U.S., makes it less likely that works will fall into the public domain.

Social movements[edit]

2011 Egyptian revolution[edit]

Content creation serves as a useful form of protest on social media platforms. The 2011 Egyptian revolution was one example of content creation being used to network protestors globally for the common cause of protesting the "authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa throughout 2011".[34] The protests took place in multiple cities in Egypt, and quickly evolved from peaceful protest into open conflict. Social media outlets allowed protestors from different regions to network with each other and raise awareness of the widespread corruption in Egypt's government, as well as helping coordinate their response. Youth activists promoting the rebellion were able to formulate a Facebook group, "Progressive Youth of Tunisia".[34]


Examples of recent social media protest through online content include the global widespread use of the hashtags #MeToo, used to raise awareness against sexual abuse, and #BlackLivesMatter, which focused on police brutality against black people.

See also[edit]

  • Content intelligence – Marketing strategy
  • Content marketing – Form of marketing focused on creating content for a targeted audience online
  • Copyright – Legal concept regulating rights of a creative work
  • Creative commons – Organization creating copyright licenses for the public release of creative works
  • Creativity – Forming something new and somehow valuable
  • Creator economy – Economy of online content creators
  • FAIR data – Data compliant with the terms of the FAIR Data Principles
  • Crowdsourcing – Sourcing services or funds from a group
  • Open content – Nonrestrictive creative work
  • Open-source intelligence – Data collected from publicly available sources to be used in an intelligence context


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