In the beginning, there was a group of creators. The men and women who created information. They worked for academia, corporations, government and the media. The content was trusted because it came from figures and institutions of authority. It was understood that a specific process was utilized to produce that content including thorough research, testing and investigation. Content was then distributed through a variety of media: newspapers, magazines, TV and radio. As institutions rose and fell, as individuals were named and shamed, people began to realise that content was not necessarily free from bias just because it came from a figure of authority. We became suspicious of the content because we did not know if we could trust their sources. We did not know the connections that may or may not have existed between media outlets, governments and corporations. At that time creators were in the minority and the majority of users could only consume.
And then came the Internet.
Sure academia, corporations, government and the media still produced content, as they always did, and just uploaded the same content to the Web. But after a very short time, consumers realised that they too could be creators. They could create and share words, images, sounds. They could communicate directly with someone on the other side of the world. They could make the middle-men disappear. Their message could be raw and unsophisticated but it hadn’t been filtered through any other medium. It was real.
Another activity people discovered, was the ability to curate. They could scour the Internet and collect all the things they liked, then place them in one place for others to see and like. Some people have turned this into an endeavour that can be just as creative and innovative as creating something from scratch. Internet memes and mash-ups and are the children of curation. Its digital recycling for Gen Y.
Consequently, we arrive at the latest phenomenon and desire: collaborate. We can form online communities and generate infinite threads around common interests. We can crowd source for new ideas and find solutions for problems that perplex us. We can work together to fight a problem that may be a challenge for one person, but not for thousands. These connections extend beyond our own street to people across the globe. There has never been a more exciting time where it is truly possible to create a positive change in the world from our very own keyboards. Perhaps the next stage in the evolution of users is to become agents of change where our ideas are transformed into real world action.