Creating Content or Creating Hype: Practices of Online Content Creation and Consumption in Estonia

Vol.2,No.1(2008)

Abstract
This article takes as a point of departure the high position of Estonia in information society development and the optimistic public rhetoric and hype associated with it. The aim of the article is to look beyond the general statistics of Internet promotion and usage by asking what usage means in terms of fostering civic and political participation. We focus on practices of online content creation and consumption as a critical part of digital media literacies. The article explores how widespread these activities are among Estonian Internet users and how they are distributed between men and women, and between different generations (with a special emphasis on younger age groups). We also examine relationships between types of Internet users and practices of online content creation and consumption. The analysis is based on a representative population survey conducted in November 2005. The results show that the creation and consumption of online content varies greatly between age groups and types of Internet users. The current pattern of content creation practices does not encourage discussion of the manifold multimedia literacies and critical digital skills needed for successfully interacting in the wider social environment. The findings refer to online media as a means for practicing one’s creativity, as a tool for self-expression and as an environment with a rather limited array of cultural consumption. This situation does not justify the hype about the Estonian e-state used to support the claims of success in e-governance, e-education and related areas.

Keywords:
online content creation; digital media literacy; types of Internet use; Estonia
Author biographies

Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt

Author photo Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt is a professor in media studies at the University of Tartu, Institute of Social Studies and a part-time researcher at Estonian National Museum. Her interests are related to the internet and social media privacy, internet user typologies, user-friendly online spaces. She is part of the management team for the ERCREA European Media and communication training programme and chair of the Audience and Reception Studies Section of ECREA. Her publications include articles in First Monday, Journal of Baltic Studies, Journal of Computer Mediated Computation and several chapters in edited volumes.

Veronika Kalmus

Kalmus VeronikaVeronika Kalmus is a Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu, Estonia. Her research focuses on socialization, inter-generational relationships, media use and cultural values. She leads several research projects, including “Generations and inter-generational relations in the emerging information society,” and participates in the project EU Kids Online. She has published extensively in international journals and collections, including Childhood, Children & Society, Discourse & Society, and Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

Pille Runnel

Author photo Pille Runnel works as the Research Director at the Estonian National Museum and as a Research Fellow at the University of Tartu. In 1994-2001 she was involved in nation-wide projects that introduced Internet-based education to Estonian pupils by integrating different school subjects. Currently, she is involved as an expert in ethnographic methods in research projects dealing with socio-cultural practices in the information society in Estonia. She teaches several under- and post-graduate courses at the University of Tartu (Ethnography, Network Society, Information Society, and Media Anthropology).
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