February 29, 2004

Content Creation Online

44% of Internet users have created content for the online world through building or posting to Web sites, creating blogs, and sharing files

In a national phone survey between March 12 and May 20, 2003, the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that more than 53 million American adults have used the Internet to publish their thoughts, respond to others, post pictures, share files and otherwise contribute to the explosion of content available online. Some 44% of the nation’s adult Internet users (those 18 and over) have done at least one of the following:

  • 21% of  Internet users say they have posted photographs to Web sites. 
  • 20% say they have allowed others to download music or video files from their computers.
  • 17% have posted written material on Web sites.
  • 13% maintain their own Web sites.
  • 10% have posted comments to an online newsgroup. A small fraction of them have posted files to a newsgroup such as video, audio, or photo files.
  • 8% have contributed material to Web sites run by their businesses.
  • 7% have contributed material to Web sites run by organizations to which they belong such as church or professional groups.
  • 7% have Web cams running on their computers that allow other Internet users to see live pictures of them and their surroundings.
  • 6% have posted artwork on Web sites.
  • 5% have contributed audio files to Web sites.
  • 4% have contributed material to Web sites created for their families.
  • 3% have contributed video files to Web sites.
  • 2% maintain Web diaries or Web blogs, according to respondents to this phone survey. In other phone surveys prior to this one, and one more recently fielded in early 2004, we have heard that between 2% and 7% of adult Internet users have created diaries or blogs. In this survey we found that 11% of Internet users have read the blogs or diaries of other Internet users. About a third of these blog visitors have posted material to the blog.

Most of those who do contribute material are not constantly updating or freshening content. Rather, they occasionally add to the material they have posted, created, or shared. For instance, more than two thirds of those who have their own Web sites add new content only every few weeks or less often than that. There is a similar story related to the small proportion of Americans who have blogs.

The most eager and productive content creators break into three distinct groups:

  • Power creators are the Internet users who are most enthusiastic about content-creating activities. They are young – their average age is 25 – and they are more likely than other kinds of creators do things like use instant messaging, play games, and download music.  And they are the most likely group to be blogging.
  • Older creators have an average age of 58 and are experienced Internet users. They are highly educated, like sharing pictures, and are the most likely of the creator groups to have built their own Web sites. They are also the most likely to have used the Internet for genealogical research.
  • Content omnivores are among the heaviest overall users of the Internet. Most are employed. Most log on frequently and spend considerable time online doing a variety of activities. They are likely to have broadband connections at home. The average age of this group is 40.