Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

87 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Are you a content consumer or creator?”

  1. Brian Driggs says:

    My first comment here, I think.

    This is exactly right, Mr. Solis. Our hyperconnected world is so much more entertaining – and rewarding – when we seek to give as much as we get from it. Consumption addresses short term symptoms, but creation addresses deeper, fundamental issues, raising the bar.

    Enjoying your work, sir.

    • briansolis says:

      Welcome Mr. Driggs. I truly enjoyed your first comment. You are right on the mark…and I hope you share your insights with us more often.

    • Brian Driggs says:

      Thank you for the warm welcome. Appreciate it.

      I generally avoid the bigger name blogs that get truckloads of comments on every post (groupthink?), but this one spoke to me and my life’s work. Besides, there were no comments on said A-list blog what usually gets truckloads of comments at the time. I had the shot, so I took it.

  2. Brian Driggs says:

    My first comment here, I think.

    This is exactly right, Mr. Solis. Our hyperconnected world is so much more entertaining – and rewarding – when we seek to give as much as we get from it. Consumption addresses short term symptoms, but creation addresses deeper, fundamental issues, raising the bar.

    Enjoying your work, sir.

  3. I read a while back that in order to learn something, you write it down. Personally, I retain knowledge better (learn) if I share it (teach.) I am an actual teacher, and know this for a fact about myself.

    The addiction to this cycle is the desire to share drives my desire to learn – hence the more I create, the more I consumer, in the cycle.

    I am observing that the most engaging people work harder and learning than they do at sharing – so that what is shared is even better than what is learned.

    I might have spun myself into hole here, but it makes sense to me (inside my head…)

    • briansolis says:

      Paul, I agree. From my experience, I need to write in order to retain it beyond short term memory. It is the cycle of “learn/teach” that will define the future of the social economy and increase signal over noise – or at least among those who learn to tune and also contribute to the signal. Thank you for contributing to the signal…

    • Steve says:

      No. Just a fan from his tech blogging and now on Twitter. Trying to do more creation. Can’t go to Arizona and take his classes so his book is the next best thing!

  4. I read a while back that in order to learn something, you write it down. Personally, I retain knowledge better (learn) if I share it (teach.) I am an actual teacher, and know this for a fact about myself.

    The addiction to this cycle is the desire to share drives my desire to learn – hence the more I create, the more I consumer, in the cycle.

    I am observing that the most engaging people work harder and learning than they do at sharing – so that what is shared is even better than what is learned.

    I might have spun myself into hole here, but it makes sense to me (inside my head…)

  5. This idea has long been on my mind, and it inspired a string of blog posts regarding the problem of what I call “content gluttony.”

    It’s taken me many years, but I’ve learned to stop consuming so much and start creating. The ratio is now about 5:1 in favor of creation. It’s the only way to make a lasting difference and sustainable livelihood.

    BTW Brian — thanks for the great talk at Affiliate Summit West, and the signed copy of Engage.

    • briansolis says:

      Charles, it’s good to hear from you. Thank you for being there in Vegas and thank you for sharing your thoughts here. Thank you for creating…keep up the good work.

  6. Steve says:

    I think whether consuming or producing content, one should be principled. Dan Gillmor suggests such principles, and more, in his new book Mediactive, available free at http://mediactive.com/ .

  7. Bob Clark says:

    Brian – I really like your blog and have shared it around the office. I find the amount of redirected content in social media to be overwhelming and time consuming to sift through – it feels like a search engine numbers game to gain followers. Hats off to those who create with the to goal of simply sharing. I really enjoy writing for business, even if the big numbers are not there now.

  8. greggyour says:

    Not sure I create as much as I consume/share. However, if I share, am I not helping to create a heightened sense of knowledge?

    • briansolis says:

      Gregg, that’s the great debate over curation…does your update contribute to era of the lazy web or do we get to see your true insights in addition to the link? There’s no right or wrong answer…it’s just something to think about.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Oh wow – that’s a corker. If consuming includes learning, I’m at about a 70/30 ratio weighed toward the consuming side of the scale. But if you include learning as part of the content creation process, then it’s closer to 30/70 the other way.

    As a content marketer, I’ve noted that the most difficult thing for clients to wrap their heads around is creating good, relevant, helpful content with which to interact with their prospective customers. It’s hard for them to think about creating anything other than marketing material. Is that the effect of consuming so much bad marketing material that the only thing they can relate to is their own experience? Or is it an example of totally taking themselves out of the creation process in favor of someone else doing it? No clue. All I know is the ability to create requires some consumption along the way but it’s more like recycling than pure, unadulterated consumption.

  10. Enjoyed your thoughts. In answer to your questions, I am just a woman that flutters around this huge world wide web looking for what will enrich my mind, heart and soul. Consumer? absolutely. I, as most, do a little blogging, sharing my thoughts and experiences just as you. I find extreme satisfaction “creating” my little entries, enjoying every comment and country visit. Sharing my knowledge, and lack there of, is a hoot. No matter I’m a nobody in the grand scheme. Those I touch matter.
    What I’ve observed~ I do not think the written word has the monetary value that some expect it to have. The power’s that be ultimately control what we consume, that will never change, it’s frustrating but reality. We just have to creatively seek what we are looking for, enjoy ourselves, and help humankind evolve, irregardless of the “powers”. We must leave our mark.
    What it is about me that people adore~ I can hold my own with just about any situation or person. That’s how I get the guts to comment. I am strangely gifted a friend of mine said. Can I add a 😉 without criticism? (can I get a LOL?)
    Hugs and Blessings

  11. Karen says:

    Interesting … but I’m a consumer … I want to be a creator and consumer in a balanced way, When I’m professional!

  12. Brian,

    I find this thought inspiring and provoking and smiled when I saw Time’s Person of the Year. I find it interesting that media consumption, mirroring our economy, turned from balance to heavily (completely?) weighted to the consumption side of the equation. It’s as if we are realizing that like our economy we need to consume and share information in more equal measures.

    Thank you for continuing to share Brian.

  13. Brian,

    I find this thought inspiring and provoking and smiled when I saw Time’s Person of the Year. I find it interesting that media consumption, mirroring our economy, turned from balance to heavily (completely?) weighted to the consumption side of the equation. It’s as if we are realizing that like our economy we need to consume and share information in more equal measures.

    Thank you for continuing to share Brian.

  14. This post definitely made me think about which role I am (I do both but mostly listen) and where I want to be (more balanced and create more). Thank you for teaching and sharing! 🙂

  15. Giancarlo bozza says:

    I tend to think at social media as an Italian coffee place. Friends gather and share opinion of what is going on in their life, outside their life or of general popular interest. They absorb in these conversation and often leave an opinion on what is goin on. The more intrepid gather the insights and construct on top of this. Sharing on social media can be bare appreciation or disagreement about an argument. Or it can be the starting point for a new conversation which goes further from judging with a mere like or dislike. This is where content creation starts. It is a building of an argument which is not any more limited to a smaller number of people, but that can gather insights from friends as well of strangers. Like it is appending now.
    Crowdsoarcing is indeed not a total free brainstorming session. It is reather building on top of an initial argument. Again, an argument which as no more the limits of a small bar walls in an Italian piazza.
    And please excuse me if there are some spelling mistakes. I am Italian and I am typing from my I pad. Not that easy….

  16. “What about you that some adore that we all need to experience?” What a great question!

    I would also add, “What do you know that others would benefit from?”

    I have been mulling around this idea of “giving back to the Internet.” We all benefit so much from sites like Wikipedia and Yelp, which are useful as they are because of the individuals who contribute. So what do we each do to improve the Internet for others? We don’t all have to write restaurant reviews or textbook-like articles. But there is something each of us can and should produce content around.

    Great post!

  17. Arie Westerduin says:

    I agree with Mr. Driggs when he says that the world would be “so much more entertaining – and rewarding – when we seek to give as much as we get from it”. What I see happening though, is that a lot of the content the so-called “socialites” are creating only benefit themselves short-term & commercially. Because there’s so much content out there that doesn’t seem to add ANY value at all. I’m afraid that through the overload of information we actually risk losing out on the content that really matters. For example – just because we saw the amount of TV channels exploding late last century, it didn’t mean we were being served with more & better content. It’s just been harder to actually discover the content that’s worth consuming – hence the birth of pay-for-tv-channels. The same recently started to happen on the Internet with all the pay walls being set-up to protect high quality content…

    Just some thoughts worth sharing – I hope 🙂

  18. Rossella says:

    The relation between consumption and creationion is crucial for development, both at personal and social level. The actual stress on consuming is widespread. While create, learn and teach is real act that support development. Your choise to sell iPad is strong but with good motivation.
    I’m for learn and teach, consume is more an activity for let say free time. Learn is my motor to leave each day and teach is a way to go over me.

  19. jesseluna says:

    I think there will always be people who set out to create and others who are passive consumers. Like most folks, we’re usually not only one or the other, but a mix. If you look at YouTube, only one in a thousand users ever uploads a video.

    But then if you look at our social media foot print, every tweet is a micro blog post. Every Facebook status update is a story. Billions of these tiny creations are data points, information updates, and knowledge hubs. Twitter and Facebook are global players because they are *leveraging* the creations.

    We are creating, we just need to learn to own the content and leverage it better or the social distortion will be between those who leverage and those who don’t.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Cracking post Brian. I certainly create more than I consume. The first stop in my daily routine is writing, for at about 90 minutes. The last stop in my daily routine is reading, but only after recording music.

    I create, then I consume. Consumption, then, is my reward for creating. So it better be good information / entertainment.

    Great post.

  21. Jen Kane says:

    This reminds me of a situation that happened maybe 6-7 months ago.

    All the social media cool kids had gone to some workshop where they’d written “brand haikus” as an exercise. The next day they eagerly shared the collection they’d written with their networks. And all day I sat and watched as people retweeted the same 4 or 5 haikus over and over, gushing about how cool they were.

    Finally I tweeted that if people thought these haikus were so cool maybe they should take that inspiration and, you know, um…GO WRITE ONE (which is what I then did). Instead of endlessly reporting that a content gauntlet had been thrown down, how about taking 5 minutes to pick it up and respond in turn?

    Sadly, only one other person in my network responded to the challenge — a school teacher on maternity leave who wrote a few awesome brand haikus of her own. But all the other marketers, social media pros, writers, publicists, authors and entrepreneurs in my network apparently had bigger fish to consume and regurgitate that day instead.

    The incident only reinforced for me my suspicion that more people are comfortable just reading about the
    world changing than to type even three short lines of copy in an effort to change it themselves.

    • briansolis says:

      Jen, thank you for sharing that story…very appropriate and telling.

      This is one of the challenges facing social media. Not only do we not want to create or innovate, we are also looking to others to tell us what to do.

      What is brands X doing?
      What are the best practices in the industry?
      Who is successful and who isn’t?

      People are looking for an quick start or how to guide when in time of a revolution, the people who take the time to write it themselves wind up leading. We can’t learn from those who have yet to admit they have something to learn…so we must become the students in order to also become the teachers.

  22. Criss Chaney says:

    Its just easier to consume and curate than to create, come up with an original idea and actually articulate it. That takes real thought and reflection.

    • briansolis says:

      Criss, absolutely. I wonder if we’re blurring our definition of creation these days. I look at many of the responses on twitter to the headline and most say “both!” I don’t believe it. Tweeting isn’t creating in of itself. Tweeting creatively is creating. Tweeting with intention and forethought is creating.

  23. Sherrilynne says:

    This is my point exactly when I complain about all these new, self-proclaimed social media gurus that spend their lives retweeting Mashable and Techcrunch. They are really participating in the conversation if they don’t create their own content.

    • briansolis says:

      Indeed…another way to look at this is, are we contributing to the noise or the signal. Using the words of others isn’t an act of investing in our social capital…but knowing this, do we rethink how we approach social media? I hope so.

  24. nicky fraser says:

    Great post Brian. This has got me thinking about how annoying I find it when people share information that isn’t really that interesting to their followers/customers. It seems like the Goal of posting updates has superseded any other process – like informing or helping with useful, relevant content. And I often see that when those people produce their own content that it’s a bland regurgitation of information that already exists.

    I really liked how you inserted the sharing in there, because that’s vital – there’s no point in creating or consuming if nobody’s going to learn from it.

  25. Anonymous says:

    As a Digital Media major whose about to graduate in the spring, it’s my opinion that learning to become a good creator takes a bit of guidance from someone who is knowledgable in the art of craftfully creating a social presence.
    Just as you were taught to first play an instrument, such as guitar or piano, it opened up the creative world of music to you and for those of you who were given a paintbrush and a little direction, are you not now able to create works from scratch and express your thoughts? Teaching people how to have a creative social presence works the same way in that you explain to them which tools to use, where the materials are, and then see what they come up with.
    Personally, I would advocate introducing media creation in primary schools where self expression and learning go hand-in-hand.

    • Katie Haag says:

      I’ll piggyback on this comment from GarrettWhitten- I also am graduating in the field of Digital Media and have a passion for sharing and collaborative knowledge. That being said, when you’re entering the space and trying to find where you stand, there’s hesitation to put your own opinions out there for fear of irrelevance. If your thoughts don’t align with what’s being said by the social media “experts,” will you lose credibility? Does the Web serve as the perfect platform to highlight the age old 80/20 rule (the Paleto Principle)? Or does the Paleto Principle help determine influence?

      This is my first comment on a blog, but felt compelled to share my thoughts. Thanks for inspiring us to continue innovating!

    • That’s a great point, Katie. Most folks are still in the mindset that media is only to be consumed (radio, television, print, i.e. analog media) and that their opinions/criticisms are irrelevant in the “big picture”, but as Brian points out in this article consumers now own the power to change what is being said, where’s it’s being said, and who’s saying it.

      Once the idea sinks in that consumers now have the dual role of producer as well as consumer, then you’ll see a drop in the digial-creative guard of people all across the social web. Who we consider to be social media “experts” right now are just folks who are ahead of the curve and have a great natural ability to translate their ideas and thoughts to a wide reach of people online or not, they’ve just figured out how to do it successfully online first. And just so nobody hounds you about it in the future, Katie, it’s the Pareto Principle.

  26. PamMktgNut says:

    Brian- wow another great post. My belief is we have officially entered the Inspiration Age. Content that is shared to wide audiences in social media is often done so because it struck an inspiration chord. It made someone laugh, feel empowered, or simply connected with their state of mind.

    You bring up an interesting conversation regarding creation of content versus simply curation. I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of only curating. We can’t lose sight of the value of creating.

    We kicked off a course today with a local county biz dev council. With a room full of leaders new to social media and in reality online mktg in general it made me think of what would happen if we quit creating?

    I for one have been working on an editorial calendar that inspires and connects even more than I have done in the past. This article has inspired me to finish such!

  27. Rob le Pair says:

    For me, this is a too black and white view; consuming and reflecting about it can be a very creative and productive activity.

    • briansolis says:

      Rob, it’s not a black and white discussion. It’s an inflection point…are we really creating (adding to the signal) or are we mostly talking (contributing to the noise). There’s a balance of course, but I think many believe they are creating when they are in fact, not….it’s ok, it’s wonderful even. But as this is the most significant era of self-expression in history, could it not be more? It starts with each one of us.

  28. Thought provoking as always, Brian. I am heartened to see Digital Media students weighing in here. They will be the thinkers and doers of the future in the information age. I work in a university environment where digital media is being embraced, but not fast enough. Your challenge to create at least equal to what we consume really resonates. What if all of our students today took up the challenge and embraced digital storytelling as a current assignment…and as a way of leaving a legacy of their thinking. The information age is sadly temporal and fleeting – I worry about that many of the best ideas will vanish unless they are recorded (read this created) for others to consume.

  29. robingandhi says:

    Great post, Brian. Really thought provoking, and I could not agree more about how “lazy” the web is becoming. The amount of broadcasting that I see on micro-channels is often higher than anything in longer format social channels. We could all say that this is the equivalent of sharing and maybe even teaching, but if we’re just passing around content, then what is the real value to the overall web community?

    But then again from an enterprise perspective, I would say that broadcasting and “Likes” really help to push brand messaging. These may be some of the “lazier” forms of content curation, and yet they are driving many organizational initiatives today. So what happens over the course of time? Do we all get tired of the noise in the “statusphere”, and these forms of effortless content just start getting ignored by individuals, friends and companies alike? I think this may be starting to happen, and I wonder what it will mean to organizations who are leveraging this form of content sharing to drive messaging. Will it be effective? For how long?

  30. Will the curation process ultimately surface the highest quality creations and separate the signal from the noise? We can only hope. The engine is creation, no doubt, and as some of the others have shared, learning (versus consumption just for consumption’s sake) certainly can stimulate creative thinking. There will always be those of us who choose to lead. Leaders will do the hard work and fight the good fight. They won’t cut corners or take the easy way out. I have to believe that the “true” and dedicated content creation leaders will continue to emerge and rise to the top.

  31. Gareth Rees says:

    Long before the digital age, the great Henry Miller wrote something that I believe applies to social media: ‘We don’t talk, we bludgeon one another with facts & theories gleaned from cursory readings of newspapers, magazines and digests’.

    I used to write newsletters and direct mail that were printed on paper and sent through the post, yes the post! Can you believe it? Today I still do the majority of my writing and marketing through long copy email newsletters. It may be old fashioned but it works. Open rates are high and readers respond.

    The rules of engagement have been the same ever since I started in the publishing business….write with a strong individual voice, express your own opinion, cover ideas that are missed by the mainstream media, solve your reader’s problems and help them fulfil desires.

  32. Learning and teaching are players in the same game. If either one stops, everything becomes heavy and ceases to be fun.
    Learning is the reward for respecting life and teaching is the fruit of experiencing life.

  33. Keri Andino says:

    Brain, Thank you for allowing me to rethink how I am “doing” Social Media in regard to not stepping up to creation of my own writing as a form of content creation after I have chewed on and learned such great content– truth be told, many newbie’s that have come onto the social scene are guided to “follow the influencers”, engage in convos with those you feel you can glean knowledge from and many times it becomes overwhelming to then curate and create killer content when much of your day is spent reading the likes of Brian Solis, Chris Brogan, Pam Moore, Mari Smith, Seth Godin, Brian Clark and more! Finding the balance and filtering through the noise, (for garbage in.. creates garbage out) for me has become about being able to discern what is actually going to allow me to consume, learn, share and create for the good and be able to become more of a contributor instead of another noisemaker~ Thanks for awesome take aways from this post- You are setting the bar higher and it’s much appreciated~ KnDino

  34. Inspiring post as always. I would probably say my consumption/creation ratio is around 70/30. There are times when I literally spend hours reading websites like Mashable or TechCrunch, and for what? Most of what I read I don’t remember or even write about.

    This just means that I need to ramp up my content production. I already blog every weekday, but I’ve been increasingly looking towards producing my own videos and podcasts.

    I guess now is the time to stop reading so many tech blogs and start adding my own thoughts to the conversation.

    Thanks for the post!

  35. Dalgers says:

    in order to consume/learn/teach there has to be something created by someone…a writer, an artist, an inventor, and so forth. as those who regurgitate content become more prevalent, those who create content will become more essential. one hopes.

  36. But you want this post to be curated over and over again, the more the better, and the more you’ll filter out from the noise. Do you think we’re moving towards a growing percentage of consumers than creators relative to today’s number?

  37. But you want this post to be curated over and over again, the more the better, and the more you’ll filter out from the noise. Do you think we’re moving towards a growing percentage of consumers than creators relative to today’s number?

  38. CJ Roberts says:

    I have heard a few times the lament over the death of true investigative journalism, with a corollary being a lack of sustainable sourcing. The more we consume the more we want to consume and the smaller we want those portions to become. Instead of reading a book we read 100 blog posts. It seems that through systems like Tumblr, Favstar and other niche chic communities many people are contributing to the philosophy epitomized by this post. Original thought and content, sharing ideas and unique media, self regulating and without the need of marketing momentum.

  39. Mary Abrams says:

    Brian, you nailed it. It is much easier to get lost in consumption without creating. I am guilty of it and am trying to get out of the rut. Your post was inspiring and thought provoking as usual. I think I will print it out and keep it as a reminder. I lust for an IPAD but after reading your post I think I will learn to love my PC and IPhone! Thanks so much.

  40. Anonymous says:

    I don’t really like the word consume or consumer in this connotation, I understand where you are coming from, but… the context is not good. Many people don’t like to create. Also, you need to balance listening with creating. If you talk more than half the time, then you aren’t Engaging. You’re Dictating. 🙂

  41. Philip says:

    I believe most people are simply followers while the rest are leaders. We leaders are the ones that actually create and consume content. The followers are strictly consumers of content. Some of us leaders are a lot better at creating content that is more successfully consumed.

    With the new information economy, some followers have realized that they too may profit by re-syndicating content. They do this to achieve economic benefits of a leader without the dedication of being a true leader.

  42. KyleWith says:

    Just putting it out there, now that it is so easy to share. Can we have Consumers, Creators and Curators? Curators being people who sort through and share – repost – good content, they have consumed?

  43. Vinanti V says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts in this consumer demands created by manuplating the demand for consumption. YouTube.com is a fine example for all our fears as everyone is standing in front their content and thinking their akward images of doing absolutely nothing but making stupid faces and talk muck … means creative content … thanks to YouTube’s welcoming anything and everything in the name of democracy for individualized expression. Everyone feels their own image makes them the expert to say and do what they want. Let’s concentrate on creating and sharing unique ideas that can transcend towards learning – whether it be the stupid face on YouTube whose greatest desire is to be simply seen and heard … with no a clue in the head that there is something we are all learning … even through the misguidedness of stupidity …

  44. DHgate.com says:

    Depends how one defines “create” – does adding commentary onto news pieces or blogposts or opinon pieces create content? I would suggest it does. On Twitter, I don’t think simply posting a piece’s title and the link is enough – what do you think about it? Why is it relevant? and so on.

  45. Anonymous says:

    This post triggers thoughts. I personally mostly see myself as a “heavy” cunsumer and learner in the social economy, in one sense. If I am to be compared with social media “gurus” or experts such as yourself, and many of those I follow on Twitter, I am definately a learner. I find it extremely useful to follow people who have the time to sort and scan and share interesting posts and thoughts. But in another sense I am definately a creator, and that is that I take what I learn, both from others and from my own experiences when testing things, and adapt these learnings into the online channels I am responsible for in my work. And, internally in the company I then become an expert in the organization when I share my experiences and learnings, in a way teaching. But this said, taking the step from here to formulating my own ideas into posts on my blog or Twitter so that they would be open for anyone to criticize is a different thing. I have ideas and thoughts and I do create, but in comparison to established well formulated sources I tend to not allowing myself just to elaborate those thoughts in public. Though i guess since many people would not notice my ideas since my audience is small (minimal :)) I should allow myself to create even more. This is something I believe that many other “non-creators” share; being at the edge of a pool of well respected experts who all seem to “know” and follow eachother, but not taking the step into the discussion, with fear of saying the “wrong ” thing. Thought the discussion would probably benefit. Thanks anyway for sharing your thougts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Our Mailing List

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Stay Connected
Twitter
  • RT @NathalieNahai: "There is this notion of wellness that we have long ignored in business. The concept of, to give it a word or a term, em…
  • I'm in NY for my 2nd live, in-person keynote and I'm starting to notice a concerning pattern...all of my suits have shrunk during COVID.️