Content and The Next Generation

Tomorrow I begin teaching my first video production class to a group of about 40 future web and new media designers. I have another 40 to teach on Monday. I’m pretty excited about it. We’re going to have a ton of fun, learning to write, shoot, and edit video and discovering the power of video as a Web medium. 

At the same time, I’m thinking about some serious things too. It occurs to me that this particular group of students, at this particular time, are squarely centered on the sharp, bleeding edge of the Internet. Social media is a burgeoning industry, and every day new and innovative ways to interact online are revealed (Chrome and Ubiquity are two that I’m pretty fired up about right now). Computers are smaller, faster, and more connected than ever before. And that’s only going to continue to grow and evolve at lightning speed.

As information disperses more and more widely, there is a real danger that the line between content and creator will become blurred. This is risky business. It’s so easy now to just mash it up, plop it on YouTube, and walk away. Peer to peer sharing is widespread, without a second thought to the source of the content. In our copy-and-paste world, plagiarism is at epidemic levels in our secondary and post-secondary schools. 

I know that the whole issue of copyright and ownership has been beat to death out here in the Blogosphere. But it is critical that the content creators of tomorrow understand the gravity of the situation. Nearly all of the knowledge in the world is now available at the click of a button; this is a dramatic shift from even 5 years ago. And more content is coming online every day. According to this article, Technorati alone tracks more than 110 million blogs. 

Today’s students are the people who are going to be creating the Web of the future. At some point we must begin to consider the continued integrity of the content on this future Web. I believe that those of us who have been in the Web industry since its inception about 10 or so years ago and in other forms of “traditional” media before that, have a responsibility to these up and coming creatives. We must ensure that they understand how to create good content. But we absolutely must pass on the utter importance of creating content that is real and true and unique, for this is the underlying motivation that will generate that good content. 

It’s up to all of us to maintain the integrity of the Web, by upholding copyright and plagiarism laws and by not tolerating content that is racist, hateful or harmful to others. Now that the Internet, social media and new media are becoming more common on the curricula of our schools, we must instill more than just a knowledge about what is hot and new. We must instill a sense that we are all ultimately responsible for what the Web becomes.

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4 Responses

  1. is it too late to enroll in your class 🙂 this will be one of the most important classes these students take – I hope they realize that

  2. There’s a good and deep thread in your post Sue. Very cool.

    I think an issue that everyone who creates content on the web has to deal with is .. Fame.

    All the Services springing up allow people to get some notoriety simply by being a good _conduit_.

    Being a conduit is viable, and requires skill. To be good, ha.

    Anyway, the point. Fame is, I think, a big factor in the blurring of the lines between Creator and Content. We want to get a name, or have Scoble link to us, so we write posts about what he likes. Or what everyone is talking about. Like the crazy amount of political “insight” going on FriendFeed and Twitter at the moment. Or posts about Chrome.

    Creating good Content sometimes means writing about what people are talking about. Especially if you are interested in it. But it’s more than this. It’s about creating with the vision that YOU have.

    Speaking from experience. I’ve gone down a lot of different creation tangents in my life, and in my time on the web. Writing Stories, Kids Telly Shows, Software Blogs, Gary Vee style videos .. And am not at all well-known.

    Sure, sometimes my content isn’t crash hot. But despite not getting thousands of people to wait with bated breath for my next post, I’m still creating the way I always have.

    Anyway. Sorry. Got sidetracked there.

    Fame vs. Contentment maybe?

  3. Suze – very interesting and timely post. And, oh so critical.

    As a writer, and someone who has been a writer my entire life — both in the offline and online space – the concept of the ‘ease at which content can be developed and published’ is troubling. Not everyone is a writer, just as not everyone is a chef or an educator or a doctor or lawyer. And yet, the web provides the instant gratification without the proper vetting, so anyone can put anything up and anytime and as you say, walk away. But does that make it valid, credible or free for the taking to all that surf by?

    No to the first two points, yes to the third.

    That’s my point.

    Stu writes about the fact that perhaps content creation is somehow tied to achieving “fame” (“I’m a legend in my own mind,” comes to mind here.) Again, instant gratification. I may be old school but I believe that one of the most important lessons that we can learn is that content needs to be respected whether it is off or online, that content and quality do not automatically overlap and that the rules remain the same even if the lines become blurred in the interactive space.

  4. Someone lifted my Why Leave Facebook post and pasted it into a group they created at FB this week, so I emailed FB to have it removed since the creater of that group has deactivated his account. You wouldn’t believe the overall tone and requests for proof and verification from FB’s legal team to me to prove the person in question lifted MY content from MY personal blog that resides on MY personal server despite the fact that the stupid douche linked the whole thing back to my original blog post. And FB is still taking the position that I may be lying about the content being mine even though the post is still up and date stamped.

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