The social currency of photos: are you a creator or a curator?

The social currency of photos: are you a creator or a curator?

Last Friday I retired my Blackberry and made the switch to the iPhone 5 and I’ve spent the days since adjusting. My greatest challenge has been getting accustomed to the sometimes irritating and often-hilarious adventures of autocorrect and the sensitive touch keyboard. Today I sent my mom a text and my phone changed “waiting” to “Walkman”. She thought I was using some kind of hip new slang – and I wondered if my brand new high-tech phone was suffering from 80’s flashbacks.

The next biggest adjustment has been the sudden widespread availability of apps – there really is an iPhone app for everything! One of my first downloads was Instagram – because all my iPhone owning friends use it. And a quick look through my friends’ profiles proves they’re using this photo app often.

Report: Photos and Videos as Social Currency Online

According to a report released on September 13 by Pew Research Center’s, Internet and American Life Project, the popularity of Instagram among people in my age group fits with overall trends. The report, Photos and Videos as Social Currency Online, reflects the findings of a survey conducted in August with 1,005 Internet users in the U.S. The survey was designed to examine the demographics of the people making photo and video sharing popular and figure out exactly how they’re behaving.


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Are you a creator or a curator?

Creator or curator of photos, Instagram and Pinterest have exploded.The Pew Internet survey determined that:

46% of Internet users post original photos and videos online they have created themselves and

41% curate photos and videos they find elsewhere on the Internet and post on image-sharing sites.

Based on their photo-sharing behaviours, Pew placed survey respondents into two groups:

  • Online image creators: The people in this group include those who have shared photos they created themselves (45% of Internet users) and those who have shared videos they created themselves (18% of Internet users). This includes people who engage in one or both of these activities. Creators tend to be young people – of those in the 18 – 29 age range, 67% participate in photo creation and sharing and 33% participate in video creation and sharing.
  • Online image curators: The people in this group include those who have taken photos they’ve found online and shared them with others on photo-sharing social networking sites (35% of Internet users) and those who have done the same with videos (25% of Internet users) Again, you can belong to this group if you’ve done one or both of these activities. Curators tend to be women and younger adults: 40% of women share or repost images they’ve found online, as do 52% of people in the 18 – 29 age range. One the video side, 27% of women share videos they find online, along with 44% of 18 – 29 year-olds.

The overall results showed that 56% of Internet users do one of these creator/curator activities and 32% do both.

 Are you an Instagram or a Pinterest person?

The study also looked at the demographics using Instagram and Pinterest and found that:

  • 12% of online adults use Pinterest and the majority of them are women.
  • 12% of online adults use Instagram, the majority of which are young adults (men and women). 27% of adults between the ages of 18 – 29 are sharing photos on Instagram. 

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