The “Pew Research Centre”:http://www.pewinternet.org/ has just released “Content Creation Online”:http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/toc.asp?Report=113 which finds that, “44% of U.S. Internet users have contributed their thoughts and their files to the online world”.
I haven’t had the chance to dig into the detail yet but some of the activities they class as online content provision don’t match the kind of activity I am most interested in studying for my PhD. The people of most interest to me are the 13% with their own websites and the 2% with weblogs. I wouldn’t count the 20% who allow others to download music or video files from their computers as being content creators, nor would I count the 8% who have contributed material to Web sites run by their businesses if they didn’t do it out of choice. But doubtless different people would slice the data different ways.
Given my reservations about their definition of content creation I am cautious about leaning too much on their results but I note that even with their rather liberal definition, online content provision tends to be done by a relatively priviledged sample of the US population – particularly in terms of education. For example, 6% of people who didn’t graduate high school contributed content online compared to 46% of those with a college degree or higher. I find it interesting that although there is a section on the demographics of content creation in the survey this stratification is not mentioned in the “summary of findings”:http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/reports.asp?Report=113&Section=ReportLevel1&Field=Level1ID&ID=484.
I look forward to getting my hands on the raw data (Pew “makes its data sets available”:http://www.pewinternet.org/datasets/index.asp six months or so after they have been collected).