Content generation is the name given to the process of creating digital media that is to be deployed to the internet. Anything that is contained on a website is called content and includes written text, drawings, photographs, videos and audio files. This means that the process of content creation is multidisciplinary and is performed by many different professionals including writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers and musicians. In fact anyone contributing to the information hold on the internet could be said to be generating content so it can also include updates to social media sites such as blog posts, Facebook likes and Twitter tweets.
The World Wide Web was invented by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 who envisioned an environment where everyone could read and write information by using a common language called html. In the 1990’s as the web developed, content generation was largely done by professionals. Journalists produced news pages, academics published papers and businesses produced catalogues. Anyone could publish a website but they still needed a web developer to write the code or they had to learn to do it themselves. In those days internet speeds were very slow, most people at home were using 48Kbps dial up modems if they had an internet connection at all. Individuals were largely passive consumers of pages of text because photographs were slow to download and video was out of the question. In the 21st century technology improved as fiber optic cables meant broadband speeds increased dramatically and computers became more powerful.
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The first decade of the 21st century saw the evolution of the World Wide Web into what has been described as a second generation of it which is sometimes called web 2.0. The development of faster connections meant that video and music streaming became available to a lot more people who could now use sites like YouTube to choose what they wanted to watch. It also allowed them to publish their own videos if they wanted to, making them creators rather than just consumers. The advent of social networking sites like Facebook changed the web because anyone could have a web presence online without needing a website of their own. In fact, sites like WordPress and Blogger meant that people could publish web pages without having to learn to code or hiring a web developer. The development of the World Wide Web has facilitated an explosion in the creation of information and it has been said that more written information has been produced in the last twenty years than the rest of human history put together. The internet has also had the effect of making content generation really easy for anyone and it’s no longer just the professionals that are doing it.
In the future content generation is likely to be increasingly done by intelligent machines. Some people have described this as web 3.0 or the semantic web and it’s already under development. When someone asks their smartphone for a nearby restaurant, it’s an algorithm that generates the content they see on the screen. Today we are all on a personalized journey through cyberspace only seeing the small subset of information that we’re interested in. Although a human being created the content, machines like search engines are filtering it for us and learning more about us all the time. Computers have not yet reached the stage of producing books or music yet but as artificial intelligence improves, it’s probably only a matter of time before they do.