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The Internet

Nearly Half of U.S. 'Net Users Post Content 264

Posted by michael
from the which-half-are-you dept.
An anonymous reader copies and pastes: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nearly half of U.S. Internet users have built Web pages, posted photos, written comments or otherwise added to the enormous variety of material available online, according to a report released on Sunday. The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that about 44 percent of the country's Internet users have created content for others to enjoy online." Don't read the blurb - cut straight to the study.
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Nearly Half of U.S. 'Net Users Post Content

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2004 @02:50AM (#8427336)
    ...half the trash comes from.
  • Seems low. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eurleif (613257) on Monday March 01, 2004 @02:51AM (#8427338)
    That includes everyone who's responded to a blog entry, posted on a message board, etc.? It seems rather low. What would really be interesting is how many people have their own web page(s).
  • by Safety Cap (253500) on Monday March 01, 2004 @02:51AM (#8427339) Homepage Journal
    So millions and millions of people post content, but how much is useful, easy to read, and informative? Probably less than one percent.
    • by radicalskeptic (644346) <tritone&gmail,com> on Monday March 01, 2004 @02:56AM (#8427362)
      Well, if you take slashdot as a cross section of the internet, it's actually much higher. I usually browse at score: 4 & 5, which means nearly all the posts I read are worth reading. The ratio of posts in an average story that reach 4 or 5 is usually at least 10%, sometimes over 20%. Of course, this is assuming Slashdot is a descent cross section of the internet, which I'm not sure is true, although it does have, what, nearly 800,000 users now?
      • by irokitt (663593) <archimandrites-iaur@@@yahoo...com> on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:00AM (#8427384)
        Since most of Slashdot's readers are qualified nerds, we find ~10%-20% of the posts to be good, interesting reading. Everyone else out there would rather watch paint dry.
        • by segment (695309) <sil@politr i x . o rg> on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:28AM (#8427609) Homepage Journal
          I think I'll make a webcam page of my wall and paint it so people can watch it dry.

          # nslookup ihavenolife.com
          Server: ns1.nac.net
          Address: 207.99.0.1

          Non-authoritative answer:
          Name: ihavenolife.com
          Address: 69.15.89.66

          bastards stole my idea
          • by Reziac (43301)
            A few decades ago, a small local cable company set an unused channel to a camera pointing at a fish tank in their office, and there it stayed for several years.

            When they finally got another feed and switched the channel to that, they were flooded with complaints! Seems a significant chunk of their subscribership left their TVs tuned to "the fish channel" much of the day, and were quite upset when it was no longer available.

            Upshot: the cable company switched the channel back to showing the fish tank.
        • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Monday March 01, 2004 @05:37AM (#8427747) Journal
          Everyone else out there would rather watch paint dry
          This is actually one of the strong points of the Internet! It is hard to find a working economic model for publishing or discussing matters that do not interest a very large audience, using traditional media such as newspapers or television. On the Internet however, that is radically different. Everyone can be a publisher, and there are places where the weirdest sort of things can be discussed.

          The fact that a particular webboard or newsgroup on, say, migration patterns of the Canadian yellowtail finch, is of no interest whatsoever to all but a few Internet users, is not a failure of the Internet... the fact that the 2 or 3 people (probably from different countries) who are interested in this subject have a place to discuss it, makes it a success! I think that counting the number of people interested in a particular bit of Web content, makes an exceedingly poor measure of its quality. The Internet is an incredible rich source of information. Despite the fact that almost no one cares one bit about the yellowtail finch, there will be some information on it somewhere, should you ever need it. In that case... judge the quality of the information on its accuracy, not on the number of people it appeals to.
          • The beauty of it is that search engines tie it all together. No matter how small a number people interested in a topic, they can find each other. And it'll be there when someone has a momentary reason to look for information. When you're dealing with an entire planet, someone's bound to be looking.

            Well, it might be there. Google has no reference to "Canadian yellowtail finch". :)

      • by inaeldi (623679) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:20AM (#8427456)
        Try taking Livejournal as the cross section though. That's when the useful content plummets to almost nil.
        • by Belzu (735378) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:45AM (#8427510) Journal
          It becomes the functional equivalent of tossing the English Alphabet at a million monkeys. Shakespeare will NOT emerge from it.
        • by ultranova (717540) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:52AM (#8427672)
          Try taking Livejournal as the cross section though. That's when the useful content plummets to almost nil.

          Diaries of unknown people are unlikely to be usefull to anyone except historians. Why would knowing about my day to day life be usefull to you ?

          To make actually usefull content, like games, stories, pictures or music, requires some actual effort. Blogs and diarys can be entertaining, but they are unlikely to be usefull.

          • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday March 01, 2004 @10:13AM (#8428865) Homepage Journal
            Well, of course, if they're old enough, records of daily life can be fascinating to regular (okay, kinda geeky) people as well as historians. E.g., my grandmother has been translating my great-great-nth-great grandmother's diary out of rather archaic French for several years now. She was a young bride (sixteen years old, something like that) whose merchant husband brought her to Haiti in the 1700's. Most of her writing is, "It's hot here, there are lots of mosquitoes, I want to go home" -- stuff that would seem pretty boring and banal at the time, but now it seems fascinating simply because of its age.

            Of course, it seems rather unlikely that anyone's LJ is going to be available for their remote descendants to read. Which is kind of a pity.
        • LiveJournal is still much better than the "My first homepage" group, mainly because it's harder to set an animated gif as the background image.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:21AM (#8427592)

        If you read a thread with a +4 threshold, then you will all the recent posts that have not had a chance to receive an eventual +4 or +5 rating. I wish there was a way to request only the subset of posts that have been rated interesting or informative by at least one moderator. That wouldn't solve the case of omitting worthwhile posts that haven't been moderated yet, but it would reduce the effect of excluding underrated posts.

      • by RobotRunAmok (595286) * on Monday March 01, 2004 @07:12AM (#8427966)
        I usually browse at score: 4 & 5, which means nearly all the posts I read are worth reading.

        Dude, I get modded up to 4 and 5 all the time, and none of my stuff is worth reading, so there's clearly a problem with that theory.
        • Dude, I get modded up to 4 and 5 all the time, and none of my stuff is worth reading, so there's clearly a problem with that theory.

          If what you say is true, I should mod your post up for being insightful. But if it's true, it should also be modded down. Damn, let's just drink the iocaine wine and get it over with...

    • by flacco (324089) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:07AM (#8427414)
      So millions and millions of people post content, but how much is useful, easy to read, and informative? Probably less than one percent.

      All those attributes are largely in the eye of the beholder.

      I think it's too often stated that the net "democratizes". The true beauty of the net is that it pluralizes. even if there are only a few hundred agitors scattered across an oppressed country - or for that matter, only a couple dozen globally-dispersed teenagers who obsess over geri ryan's ass - they can communicate, discuss, and get community critique of their otherwise lonely and isolated ideas.

      So to answer your question - a LOT of it is "useful, easy to read, and informative" - to its target audience.

      • by leifbk (745927) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:28AM (#8427608) Homepage

        I think it's too often stated that the net "democratizes". The true beauty of the net is that it pluralizes.

        You'got a very good point.

        I think that Andy Warhol's "15 minutes of fame" may be wrong. Actually, anyone of us can be famous to 15 other persons instead. All it takes is to set up a decent website and fill it with content that in some way feels important to oneself.

        I run a Norwegian website called Solumslekt [solumslekt.org] with a fairly big genealogy database (yes, I'm in the "senior" group), and in a couple of years I've gathered quite a group of attenders who are hanging around on the discussion forum.

        For more than 99% of the Web audience my site is probably worthless, but among the few who share my interests, I've earned myself some good reputation.

        I pay the equivalent of twenty bucks a month for professional web hosting, and I think it's worth it. Writing a book isn't my idea of fun, and most genealogy books don't return the investment anyway. It's so much easier to publish on the web.

    • by smallpaul (65919) <paul@@@prescod...net> on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:29AM (#8427613)

      So millions and millions of people post content, but how much is useful, easy to read, and informative? Probably less than one percent.

      You might as well ask what percentage of information transported over the telephone is useful, easy to read and informative? Who cares? People are communicating with other people and the quality of the communication is (as another poster said) in the eye of the beholder. A dump of pictures from my wedding is probably dreck to you but interesting to my mother in law.

    • by thogard (43403) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:31AM (#8427618) Homepage
      One man's garbage is anothers treasure. I've got nearly 200 meg of junk on my site but according to google some of the info is only on my site. For example, packet dumps of a nasty phone system as well as how get the thing to spit out the GPL. I've got obscure hints on fixing an old VW. This stuff is completely useless to 99.99+% of the population but when you need it, its there. I get a few messages a day from people that found it and when it saves someone a few hours, its worth it.
  • by MaineCoon (12585) on Monday March 01, 2004 @02:51AM (#8427340) Homepage
    The real question is, how much of the content is even worth existing?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I could apply the same flip remark to books, music, film and of course TV. And then there's the magazines....
    • by NanoGator (522640) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:04AM (#8427404) Homepage Journal
      "The real question is, how much of the content is even worth existing? "

      Since when do we need to place a value on individual expression?
      • by ashot (599110)
        Since it has become possible for individual expression to be recorded and dispensed to millions of people. A value system is necessary to find the crem de la crem; argue all you want for moral and value relativism, there's just too much out there no to try to do so. (You do it everyday with Google)
      • by yintercept (517362) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:46AM (#8427657) Homepage Journal
        Since when do we need to place a value on individual expression?

        A double edged question--From an individual perspective, we need to strive to find that information that is meaningful to us. That is we all have to filter out the tripe.

        From a system's perspective, I think Google has the right approach, the system should just gather and try to index the information in a usable manner and let the individual make their choice.

        The main things that google needs to look for are data structures that are clearly misleading like pages typed up by bots.

      • "Since when do we need to place a value on individual expression?"

        Since the moderation system was added to slashdot?
    • by maxpublic (450413) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:20AM (#8427452) Homepage
      The real question is, how much of the content is even worth existing?

      Not the comment above, that's for certain.

      Max
    • The real question is, how much of the content is even worth existing?

      One way of answering this is to look at the costs vs the benefits. The internet has reduced the costs of worldwide publishing to nearly zero for a lot of people. So even if the benefits of publishing one's stuff are also so near to zero as to make no difference, it is often still worth doing.

      If you are going to write a journal or put together a photo album anyway, the cost of pubishing the results on the web is insignificant compared

  • by Odinson (4523) on Monday March 01, 2004 @02:51AM (#8427342) Homepage Journal
    Who would post online? Not me!
  • Alas (Score:2, Funny)

    by tokaok (623635)
    With this post i can die happily knowing i have made a contribution to society.
  • Heartwarming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Monday March 01, 2004 @02:53AM (#8427348) Homepage
    If you ask me, the more people creating content the better. The web is a collaborate medium [w3.org] after all.

    Granted, there's a lot of worthess content out there, but I'd take a truly democratic system over an overly controlled one any day.
    • Re:Heartwarming (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gid13 (620803) on Monday March 01, 2004 @02:59AM (#8427380)
      As much as I love the idea of a "democratic" web, I have to disagree with more people creating content being a good thing. I've been arguing against copyright for a long time, and one of the reasons I do so is that it creates far too much of an incentive to create. It seems to me that we have a huge glut of material both on and offline. Having worked in a university bookstore for 4 years, I've personally seen how useless much of that content truly is.

      Of course, it may be true that the more people creating FREE content, the better. Maybe. In any case, the main point I'm making is that as long as copyright law prevails over the net, I'd call it overly controlled.
      • Re:Heartwarming (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mpe (36238) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:14AM (#8427574)
        As much as I love the idea of a "democratic" web, I have to disagree with more people creating content being a good thing. I've been arguing against copyright for a long time, and one of the reasons I do so is that it creates far too much of an incentive to create.

        It's worth asking if copyright actually does provide such an incentive. It being kind of hard to see how something which outlives its creator by nearly a century can motivate anyone :)
        • Re:Heartwarming (Score:3, Insightful)

          by squiggleslash (241428)
          Depends on when you're creating the content. I believe the idea is "I want to spend time on something that people will want to read/listen to. I can't spend the time on it if I'm not paid to do it. I'm getting close to death, and unless the rights that go with it last longer than that, I'm not going to find anyone I can sell this to."

          Of course, a 40 year copyright term (fixed length), or a "life time or 20 years, whichever is longer", would also solve the same problem, we merely have a more extreme versio

  • I wonder... (Score:5, Funny)

    by natrius (642724) <niran&niran,org> on Monday March 01, 2004 @02:54AM (#8427351) Homepage
    Do posts made by AC trolls count?
  • by foidulus (743482) on Monday March 01, 2004 @02:55AM (#8427357)
    It's amazing though how many people create these wonderful(or not so wonderful as your opinion may be) websites, then just abandon them. There was an article in the NYT a while ago(now it costs money) about how many bloggers haven't updated in a few months(the number was almost 50% IIRC) and how about 20% or so never got updated past the first post!
    At least we have better search engines than we had a few years ago, I'm sure your all well aware of the frustration you encountered when searching for something meaningful and getting, "Jim's cool page of pics" etc.

    3 Cheers for google!
    Hip, hip, hooray!
    • by kfg (145172) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:23AM (#8427459)
      One of our favorite youths, Jack, a splendid young fellow with a head
      full of good sense, and a pair of legs that were a wonder to look upon in
      the way of length and straightness and slimness, used to report progress
      every morning in the most glowing and spirited way, and say:

      "Oh, I'm coming along bully!" (he was a little given to slang in his
      happier moods.) "I wrote ten pages in my journal last night--and you
      know I wrote nine the night before and twelve the night before that.
      Why, it's only fun!"

      "What do you find to put in it, Jack?"

      "Oh, everything. Latitude and longitude, noon every day; and how many
      miles we made last twenty-four hours; and all the domino games I beat and
      horse billiards; and whales and sharks and porpoises; and the text of the
      sermon Sundays (because that'll tell at home, you know); and the ships we
      saluted and what nation they were; and which way the wind was, and
      whether there was a heavy sea, and what sail we carried, though we don't
      ever carry any, principally, going against a head wind always--wonder
      what is the reason of that?--and how many lies Moult has told--Oh, every
      thing! I've got everything down. My father told me to keep that
      journal. Father wouldn't take a thousand dollars for it when I get it
      done."

      "No, Jack; it will be worth more than a thousand dollars--when you get it
      done."

      "Do you?--no, but do you think it will, though?

      "Yes, it will be worth at least as much as a thousand dollars--when you
      get it done. May be more."

      "Well, I about half think so, myself. It ain't no slouch of a journal."

      But it shortly became a most lamentable "slouch of a journal." One night
      in Paris, after a hard day's toil in sightseeing, I said:

      "Now I'll go and stroll around the cafes awhile, Jack, and give you a
      chance to write up your journal, old fellow."

      His countenance lost its fire. He said:

      "Well, no, you needn't mind. I think I won't run that journal anymore.
      It is awful tedious. Do you know--I reckon I'm as much as four thousand
      pages behind hand. I haven't got any France in it at all. First I
      thought I'd leave France out and start fresh. But that wouldn't do,
      would it? The governor would say, 'Hello, here--didn't see anything in
      France? That cat wouldn't fight, you know. First I thought I'd copy
      France out of the guide-book, like old Badger in the for'rard cabin,
      who's writing a book, but there's more than three hundred pages of it.
      Oh, I don't think a journal's any use--do you? They're only a bother,
      ain't they?"

      "Yes, a journal that is incomplete isn't of much use, but a journal
      properly kept is worth a thousand dollars--when you've got it done."

      "A thousand!--well, I should think so. I wouldn't finish it for a
      million."

      His experience was only the experience of the majority of that
      industrious night school in the cabin. If you wish to inflict a
      heartless and malignant punishment upon a young person, pledge him to
      keep a journal a year.

      The Innocents Abroad -- Mark Twain

      KFG
    • That's OK. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SharpFang (651121) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:04AM (#8427558) Homepage Journal
      If that's meant to be a journal, it should end with your life's end. But if it's a "content webpage" like "Database of all cars created in 19th century", once it's completed and published, and after some period of bugfixes, it may be perfectly well left on the web for years, unchanged - and it will still remain a valuable resource - once completed it never needs changes.
    • It's true.

      I have tried to setup two websites and maintain them. It takes time and perseverance. The main reason is that most of the time there are more pressing needs, and after working a couple of weeks on the content of a website tiredness sets in.

      If I had more hours on a day it would be possible, but I need time to prepare courses, to cook food, to be busy with my wife and family, to investigate Linux matters, all things that have more immediate return than setting up a web site, certainly if you do no
  • by Senjutsu (614542) on Monday March 01, 2004 @02:55AM (#8427359)

    That's actually quite a bit higher than I would have guessed.
  • How about companies? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bc90021 (43730) * <bc90021@NoSpam.bc90021.net> on Monday March 01, 2004 @02:55AM (#8427360) Homepage
    Just as interesting a study, I think, would be corporations that have posted or have websites vs. those that don't. We may take it for granted, but there are still a number of business (especially small businesses) that likely don't have a web presence.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "We may take it for granted, but there are still a number of business (especially small businesses) that likely don't have a web presence."

      Nor do they need one. It's a common misconception. A "keeping up with the jones".
  • by QuantumSpritz (703080) on Monday March 01, 2004 @02:56AM (#8427363) Homepage
    Makes me wonder - if all this content is in blog/comment format, what are we losing as we auto-prune our forums, our comments, out old stories? How to we save the nuggets and toss out the crap? Like BUMP posts - those should be confined to the seventh circle of hell. Dante, anyone?
    • by adpowers (153922) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:18AM (#8427588)
      That is why you never delete or prune anything. I was involved in a local online community as one of the sys admins. I set the message board to have no pruning and I would never delete threads (just lock them at worst). Unfortunately, there were other admins as well. They decided to prune stuff and delete posts. This is one of the largest reasons for leaving the community, I feel stuff should never be removed from the internet. Thank Jah we have archive.org.
  • Enjoy? (Score:4, Funny)

    by bishiraver (707931) on Monday March 01, 2004 @02:56AM (#8427364) Homepage
    about 44 percent of the country's Internet users have created content for others to enjoy online.
    Somehow I doubt that a majority of people would enjoy the 'content' that a majority of these folks have created. A more fitting sentence would be, "... have created content for others to reaffirm the sad state of humanity with." But then again.. I'm jaded, and I'm submitting content.. go figure. :p
  • by Peeet (730301) on Monday March 01, 2004 @02:59AM (#8427375)
    there's about 800,000 users whose sole purpose seems to be to take that content down, one site at a time...

    And sometimes we even turn on eachother.
  • by joonasl (527630) <[if.iki] [ta] [nenityyl.sanooj]> on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:00AM (#8427385) Homepage
    I've wondered for a long time, if there is anything less useful in the world than all the eleventythousand personal homepages that everyone on the net seems to be doing. Millions of pages, where people want to share their hobbies and names of their family members..

    Thus far I have found one (1) use for these pages: finding the email address for someone. Unfortunately, lately because of the spam pandemic, even that function is dissapearing since people don't want to out their email addresses to public internet.

    Personally I think that when I have become interesting enough to have a personal homepage, someone else will do it for me :)

    • by kfg (145172)
      Personally I think that when I have become interesting enough to have a personal homepage, someone else will do it for me :)

      It has been suggested that there ought to be a law forbidding poets from giving public readings of their own works.

      The principle is basically the same.

      KFG
    • by G-funk (22712) <josh@gfunk007.com> on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:58AM (#8427549) Homepage Journal
      That's just tops for you, mate. But I like randomly clicking links sometimes (like /. sigs), and often I come across something interesting or worth reading... Just you think it's boring, doesn't mean I will, or Joe from down the street. And usually, if somebody posts something online, it's because they know somebody who would be interested in reading it...
  • Telephone sampling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by venicebeach (702856) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:01AM (#8427387) Homepage Journal
    The study notes that the response rate was 32.8%, meaning that the vast majority of people who were called refused to participate in the survey. This is a potential source of bias in the sample. I can certainly see those who are more eager about their internet use being more likely to participate in the study to brag about their contributions to the internet. The numbers do seem kind of high to me.
  • Summaries (Score:5, Informative)

    by GoodbyeBlueSky1 (176887) <joeXbanks&hotmail,com> on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:01AM (#8427389)
    I figure after the site gets hammered, and before someone posts a mirror for the PDF, or just as a preview, or if you don't wanna read the whole thing, or if you're a robot whose job it is to read /., here's the "Summary" section of the report (I apologize for the K-whoring):

    -----
    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.

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

    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 contentcreating
    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.
    ----

  • by billstewart (78916) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:02AM (#8427393) Journal
    While I'm sure the TV/Disney/Newsmonger conglomerates would like to think that "content" is something that they provide for us and we consume like good little couch potatoes, the really cool thing about the Internet is that anybody in the world can talk to anybody else, express themselves to the public, and provide valuable or entertaining information to the world. So the sad result of the study is that half the users don't seem to get it yet... How can we drag them in?

    Of course, that doesn't invalidate Donaldson's Commentary ("Sturgeon was an optimist"), and there's lots of content that's not very interesting, but at least we need to get kids in the habit of providing things that are interesting to their friends and thinking of what they can do for society as a whole.

  • by Ray Radlein (711289) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:05AM (#8427408) Homepage
    According to the study, 44% of all internet users have contributed something of value to the content of the internet.

    The other 56% argue about vi vs emacs.

  • by Jin Wicked (317953) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:08AM (#8427423) Homepage Journal

    At least for me, it's been almost a way of life since about 1997, and how I've been eeking out something of a living for the last half year or so (and less of a living before losing my job and car and having to work on the net fulltime).

  • Where, not how much! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:10AM (#8427424)

    All this is great and wonderful, but hides a serious problem. There are several problems facing the internet these days, IMHO. You can see the signs in the quality of link-quantified based search engines like google.

    Problem #1: when people contribute, they do so on corporate sites. Epinions. Livejournal. Even Photo.net is a perfect example of the clustering that happens, as is mp3.com...and mp3.com is an even better example of the problems with this. a)someone else suddenly gets rights to your stuff, and b)when they disappear, so does a huge chunk(relatively) of the net. c)While all this web-application crap is lovely and cute, we've discovered that it costs money and you can't do it just off banner ads- so a large number of these companies fail pretty fast if they don't find some way to charge for it, and people don't like paying anyone but their ISP, really(and that won't change with micropayments, IMHO). Nobody realized that the only people who could afford to host pictures etc- were the ISPs themselves, because they're actually getting paid for your access. Shock, gasp- the old model was better than the new one.

    Problem #2: overreliance on search engines. The web really isn't anymore- its more like a branched tree in many ways, because people don't rely on links from, say, their ISP's homepage. They fire up google instead. The internet is supposed to recover from major chunks disappearing, but what happens if google goes off the air tomorrow? I bet you'd see an immediate drop in traffic(well, aside from a hundred million people IM'ing/emailing each other saying "hey, did you know google is down?"). People would be lost. I remember in '96 I used my ISP's homepage as a jumping point; now that's virtually unheard of. People use portals, not their ISP's homepage- the predecessor to portals. Again, gasp, shock- the old system was better.

    Problem #3: Companies that host these sites really don't like spiders; they suck up bandwidth and often cause dynamic apps to crumble under the load- I've seen it happen, and I've killed/blocked spiders myself because they would have run up enormous bandwidth bills(I help run a mailing list with about 11 years of archives). Either that, or the spider might not be able to index the dynamic content. Add this to point #1+2, and oops- a large chunk of content contributed by that 44% just dropped off the radar of the rest of the world...because remember how dependent we are on search engines like google?

    Problem #4: people just don't link to stuff they like anymore, really. It used to be techno-gear-heads like us, and we usually posted our favorite links or even our bookmark files directly. Joe Shmoe doesn't. The mere fact that a very small bunch of people with blogs(not to mention the companies that manage to get 60 links to the same page into google results) can sway google is a perfect example of how few people link anymore off their homepages. Don't like it? Put up links to your favorite stuff on your homepage, and don't forget to use proper descriptive text(see the w3's homepage- "here" is a perfect example of what NOT to use between the A tags!)

    And now, my head is about to explode from all this deep thinking :-) [discuss!]

    • by Graymalkin (13732) *
      ...and don't forget to use proper descriptive text(see the w3's homepage- "here" is a perfect example of what NOT to use between the A tags!)


      No kidding. Here [google.com].
    • by cperciva (102828) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:07AM (#8427563) Homepage
      don't forget to use proper descriptive text(see the w3's homepage- "here" is a perfect example of what NOT to use between the A tags!)

      Not necessarily. For material which you don't intend for people to find via search engines, it's entirely appropriate.

      For example, if you've got a web page about some software you've written, and you've got a tarball linked from that page, you probably want Google to point people towards the page, not the tarball. Saying that the tarball is <a href="foo.tar.gz">here</a> reduces the chance that the tarball will appear inappropriately as a search result.
    • by seanadams.com (463190) * on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:23AM (#8427599) Homepage
      Again, gasp, shock- the old system was better.

      You lost me there... how, exactly, was the old system better? I know precisely where to go for "the usual things", like stock quotes, weather, news, etc. A portal is of no value beyond a cursory introduction to the 'net, and that's why the guys like excite, yahoo, etc are dead/dying. What google helps me find is the gold that could never be traced out by manuallly maintained indexes that I might frequent.

      I agree with you that widespread dependence on google is a bit frightening, but the worst we'd end up with if google disappeared (or lost credibility) is what we had before, which was basically jack shit.
  • Content? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mish (50810) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:13AM (#8427432)
    Nearly half of U.S. Internet users have built Web pages, posted photos, written comments or otherwise added to the enormous variety of material available online
    This must be some new anf generous definition of the word 'content' that I haven't come across yet.
  • by jaltoids (9737) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .rebirtj.> on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:14AM (#8427433)
    OK

    Buying a copy of word and sitting down and typing isnt going to make you a writer

    Buying a copy of dreamweaver (or shudder front page) isnt going to make you a web designer. People do things on the web that they would never do in their front yard. How many of you have seen those garish sites that make you want to cry, or your eyes bleed? People have forgotten that the web is a PUBLIC space, it is one giant central park.

    Just because you can do something dosen't mean you should, and people posting on the web need to remember this!
    • by Peeet (730301) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:15AM (#8427575)
      Central park, maybe not; no one ever forces you to look at their site. it's hard to put an analogy on the web and peoples personal sites because posting a personal site simultaneously (sp?) puts it at the same level as the largest most visited site on the net and the smallest least known pointless site. It's one giant level playing field where one site is never more or less accesible than another (all of this disregarding some variables like the slashdot effect or search engines or simplicity of domain name)

      The point is, anyone can put stuff up and I think should be encouraged. It's not like this weighs the internet down and slows it down for the rest of us, at least as far as i know, but it instead adds another node of possible information. I don't know how many times I have received some sort of small snippet of useful information from someone's homepage or description or information of a personal hobby.

      I also wish sometimes that people would post more of their stuff into the sort of "public domain" that the internet creates. If I had time and bandwidth to spare, I would post sites that explain the simple steps of how to get started into projects or hobbies or school assignments that I have done or quick explanations that bridge those gaps left by hardcore enthusiasts who have whole webrings devoted to the advanced topics of some hobby, but no one gives a good introduction helpers to the basic beginner, amerateur (I mangled that spelling.) things to do or know. Like what was your first few weeks of learning directly after you discovered this thing's existance? **cough**linux**cough** What do all those damned abbreviations stand for or where did that weird nonsensical name come from? How does this compare to other options? We all have to relearn this and then after the frustration and steep learning curve, we never go back and try and make that easier for others, lessen the learning curve.

      Yes there's a lot of crap websites out there, but what do you care? A) no one is forcing you to look at it and B) it doesn't slow down or bog the internet or take up precious space (although IP addresses could be argued) because it creates its own space to exist in as soon as it goes up. The internet is one of the most free open things in existance.

      Crap is an inevitability in free/openness and is a good sign that it still is a free and open system. Embrace it.
    • 1) Everyone disagrees on which 10% (or less) is not crap.

      2) Without the ability for unqualified people to post uninteresting content, the people who have something to express and the ability to express it well might never do so (because they might never think to do so, or because they have a lower opinion of their output than is deserved)..

      I don't want someone (not necessarily, just some power in general) telling other people what they should and shouldn't post because it isn't likely that the reviewer kn
  • by flacco (324089) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:16AM (#8427442)
    User-generated content is a huge sleeping giant that, if a bit low on production value, is capable of being so precisely targetted at its audience that it could nibble away at the market share of the lowest-common-conceptual-denominator-despite-its-l as-vegas-style-production-value shlock coming out of hollywood these days.

    unfortunately the promise of commercial-free, user-created content is ruthlessly stymied by broadband providers' policies forbidding Joe Schmoe User from setting up his own servers, and by gutting upload speeds to pathetically low rates of transfer.

    welcome to the "you-are-a-docile-receptive-sheep" consumer media ghetto.

    • by cpghost (719344) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:33AM (#8427489) Homepage

      and by gutting upload speeds to pathetically low rates of transfer.

      It would be nice if ADSL were extended to allow a kind of "reverse bandwidth" command. This command could be used dynamically by the customer's [router's] IP stack, e.g. like this: "As long as there's nothing receive, allow maximal outbound bandwidth. As soon as content is received, reverse direction."

      BTW, not all providers' policies forbid servers. It's just a matter of switching to more user-friendly companies.

      The biggest problem for Joe Schmoe is finding suitable DNS providers for their brand new domain name. DynDNS, ZoneEdit etc... will not continue to provide this for free for very long...

      • by Vancorps (746090) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:17AM (#8427585)
        That's why you "donate" to DynDNS to get them to do it for you. It really is an excellent service. I've been with them for years now, I first ordered at 3am and within a half hour I got an email saying my account was setup from a geek that was just up all night doing something or other. Was great. If there were a service worth donating to it is that.

        I'm impressed that considering I have been a member for years they continue to offer more and more services, many of them are free! So maybe you're wrong on the last part, I hope so at least.

      • It would be nice if ADSL were extended to allow a kind of "reverse bandwidth" command. This command could be used dynamically by the customer's [router's] IP stack, e.g. like this: "As long as there's nothing receive, allow maximal outbound bandwidth. As soon as content is received, reverse direction."

        Something like that exists, and the shift between using channels for upstream or downstream is done at the ADSL level itself; it's called Rate-Adaptive DSL or RADSL. Unfortunately, a bias is built in here as
  • by Maskirovka (255712) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:27AM (#8427472)
    Nearly Half of U.S. 'Net Users Post Content.


    Given the per capita fitness attitudes in the US, that'a whole lot of content most of of the world doesn't want to see.

    *ducks*

  • by cmacmanus (713176) * on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:31AM (#8427484) Homepage
    Despite the fact that most of the people who populate the internet are from North America, what are the statistics for the rest of the world?
  • by pdxdada (684092) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:36AM (#8427495) Homepage
    By the numbers now, if 44% of people surveyed contribute content to the internet and 98% of the internet is porn, than a wopping 43% or about 120 million americans are involved in the porn industry. Statistics are a wonderful thing.
  • WHAT content? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:45AM (#8427512) Homepage Journal
    1) It means that 56% of American internet users are plain parasites who take and give nothing back - and don't participate in any online communities.
    2) Maybe that's better... Anyway... Great most of the content is junk that makes finding "true gems" even harder. (webforum blurbs, webpages which repeat the same stolen articles and photos 1000's times, flames, unanswered questions and clueless answers to mailing lists, misleading links, fake keywords... finding something new, creative and useful is getting gradually harder, not easier because of this "richness")
  • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:34AM (#8427625) Homepage
    This shows that the old professional content providers view of the Internet, namely that the internet is a bunch of pipes which transfer content from a few central providers to the masses, is insufficient. Almost half the Internet users are themselves content providers, in a small scale.

    The other view of the Internet, as a nautral place where people meet and exhcange ideas and thoughts, has survived from the days it was an academic network.

    Some of us have always thought this is what the Internet should be, and what the part of the net that is interesting still is, and it is nice to have numbers that back up this view.

    The Internet is not and should not be just another broadcast medium for predigested entertainment like TV.
  • also.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ddsoul (756692) <harry.ice@org> on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:37AM (#8427636) Homepage
    Something else to consider, how much of the content is redundant??
  • by FePe (720693) on Monday March 01, 2004 @05:01AM (#8427691)
    How your content (comments, photos, files etc.) is being valued is also related to where you put it on the Net. Sites like Slashdot is reliable, which means that a bad comment posted here will be more valued than a comment posted on a personal homepage. A site like photo.net [photo.net] is a very good place to upload your pictures, and though your picture isn't considered of high quality, all other pictures on the site add up to a relatively high quality overall.
  • by torpor (458) <{ibisum} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday March 01, 2004 @05:20AM (#8427720) Homepage Journal
    I've been on the 'net since the early 80's, been involved with some big ISP startup moments in the 90's, and I've noticed that peoples 'net-sphere' grows rapidly when they first get on the 'net, and then consequently stabilizes.

    What do I mean by net-sphere? The list of sites one visits daily, or regularly, for news/updates, etc. Apart from google queries, one rarely goes outside this net-sphere ...

    For example, I visit a list of 5 sites daily. And when I'm done with those sites, I rarely visit any others, willingly, unless I happen to randomly come across something new that interests me.

    It frustrates me to know end, knowing as I do at the end of my '5 site browse session' that there are probably at least 7 or 8 other sites out there which would interest me, and which would hold my interest, and which I would add to my list of 'net-sphere' sites... only how do I find them?

    It'd be nice to have a site where I could go, plug in my 5 favourite (most-visited) sites, and get a list of recommendations for other sites to peruse/visit. I know sites like that exist ... but how do I find them?

    Search engines only solve the search for things you know you want to look for ... but that leaves maybe 85% of the problem unsolved. "Search Engines" need to evolved more into "Recommendation Engines".

    I'd happily subscribe to a list of 'cool sites to look out for', if I could, say, plug in answers to a ton of questions about the things I like, and if that service was smart enough to find me sites that were really interesting to me, I'd use it more often.

    Content isn't the problem. Finding the content is still a problem, google-success aside. (Hey, I like google, but search engines don't fill the entire need...)

    If anyone has recommendations for cool, regularly (daily) updated sites on the subject of technology, music, music technology, gadgets, meeting real nerd chicks online, and travel tips for Europe, I'd sure like to know them. :) Short of asking my friends and associates what their favourite daily-sites are, I don't know any other way to find the cool stuff ...
    • I don't have a lot of suggestions for you (maybe K5 [kuro5hin.org] and Ars Technica [arstechnica.com]), but finding sights similar to those in your "net-sphere" is easy. Do a Google query for them, using a form like "related:slashdot.org" (replacing with your favorite site names). Some of the results may be what you're looking for, some may not, but they'll get you started, at least.
    • It frustrates me to know end, knowing as I do at the end of my '5 site browse session' that there are probably at least 7 or 8 other sites out there which would interest me, and which would hold my interest, and which I would add to my list of 'net-sphere' sites... only how do I find them?

      You have to do a little work to find them, they are not coming to you...

      • Read USNET groups related to your interests and follow the links
      • Follow links from sites already in your 'net-sphere'.
      • Follow links from Slashdot
  • Misleading headline (Score:5, Informative)

    by broothal (186066) <christian@fabel.dk> on Monday March 01, 2004 @05:22AM (#8427724) Homepage Journal
    The headline is misleading. From the report in html version [pewinternet.org]

    17% have posted written material on Web sites.

    That wasn't the impression I got from reading the part of the article that was a link. Creative journalism indeed.

  • by Bertie (87778) on Monday March 01, 2004 @06:50AM (#8427915)
    The great thing about the Internet is that it means everybody can publish.

    The worst thing about the Internet is that it means everybody can publish.
  • by Little Dave (196090) on Monday March 01, 2004 @07:52AM (#8428080) Homepage
    Aw hell, who cares that most of what is on the internet is stuff and nonesense? Not I. True, Blogs tend to be tedious, self-indulgent twaddle. In more enlightened times, they would have been kept under mattress, lock and key and never revealed to the world. But thats doesn't mean there is no value in them.

    I keep a website. It's not a blog. It's just a ... website. It's pure self-indulgence. I write about ... stuff. It goes largely ignored by most denizens of the net. But there is a small subset of people from all over the globe, that visit regularly. And sometimes, if the fancy takes them, they'll contribute and comment. How amazing is that? To have an audience for your thoughts and ramblings, on an international scale!

    What an amazing world we live in!
  • by arose (644256) on Monday March 01, 2004 @08:01AM (#8428122)
    The other half are Anonymous Cowards.
  • by nutznboltz (473437) on Monday March 01, 2004 @08:42AM (#8428305) Homepage Journal
    does pr0n count as art?

: is not an identifier

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