A User-Generated World

Week 12 – Somaiya Sibai

Being an effective, influential, and successful individual in today’s world, is greatly determined by the ability to contribute content to the digital world. The world of the internet, social media, mobile applications, and instant sharing of information has become the main influence in shaping culture, ideologies, and trends. Manovich states that “During one decade, a computer moved from being a culturally invisible technology to being the new engine of culture.” This is clearly visible today, as the internet and digital world has become the most influential form of media, rather than television or radio as it once was in the past. What is special about the internet, however, is that it participatory, where users are not only receivers of information, but are the creators of it.

What Most School’s Don’t Teach

The following video went viral a couple of months ago. It talks about the importance of coding and programming as a key skill for success in today’s digital world. The video stars prominent celebrities of the IT and digital world, such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and others, who talk and encourage people to pursue learning coding, and refer to it as a “hidden superpower”.

However, programming is not the only skill that can effective in shaping the digital world. Other forms of content creation, such as video production, music production, graphics design, photography, are other, similar skills, empower people who have them over those who don’t, and give them a competitive edge in influence and control of how culture is shaped. They are givers rather than takers, producers rather than consumers. People who are skilled in any of those pursuits, and who successfully share their content on the web tend to gain near-celebrity status at many times. Examples are numerous, and can be found all over user-generated content websites such as YouTube, Tumblr, Deviantart, and more. 

It is also interesting to observe the spread and sharing of such skills through numerous tutorial websites, videos, and other forms. Anyone interested in learning a skill, whether it is programming, videography, or digital sound production, can find unlimited resources from other people who are experts at them. A lot of successful content creators today are self-taught. Additionally, there are many simplified tools becoming available online that greatly help in creating content without the need for expertise or knowledge. Those are called “webware”, and allow anyone to create simple websites, edit photos, videos, and do other things with minimum effort and skills. It is hard to find an internet user today that has not contributed at least a little to the cultural content of the web. What is for sure, however, is that the more knowledgable and skilled a person is, the more influential they are expected to be.