iPad: Content creation or consumption? A problem of Definition

I had a conversation with my brother yesterday that was about as instructive in what we learned about the conversation as it was in what we learned in the conversation.  He mentioned that Leo Laporte backed up a bit on his assertion that the iPad was predominantly a content consumption device, and acknowledged that it is being used for content creation as well.

Well, as an iPad user and an observer of tech, I was a bit surprised by this.  I have seen many iPads showing up around campus, and in other places, and almost exclusively I have seen it used as a reader (PDFs for class, books, and such) and as a device to view movies and shows.  Actually, I have seen less “video” than text on the screens of those around me.  I would venture to say that for most people the use of the iPad remains consumption.

I mentioned that, and my brother challenged me, arguing that he, and his colleagues, are using the iPad quite regularly for note taking and email.  I had to agree, but then…. we learned.

See, for me the operational definition of “content creation” is something that is substantive.  I have a definition that looks at the degree, or dare I say it, quantity, of the “content” being created.  I never viewed writing emails, taking notes, or editing existing slideshows as real “content creation.”  And I certainly don’t view arranging photographs into a slideshow as a “content creation” event.  The creation of the content in that case was during the translation from the photographer’s eye to the sensor in the camera.

So things came down to “Operational Definitions.”  In research we are often faced with the need to not just have a  simple definition but one that we can use to clearly differentiate between things, and more specifically, to transfer from a qualitative assessment to a measurable response.  For instance, we often talk about “small businesses” but without an “operational definition” we open ourselves up to a wide range of mis-communications.  For instance a small business can be measured as:

  • a level of revenue (less than 1 million a year?)
  • a level of profit (less than 1 million a year?  Notice that the same dollar figure leads to two very different thresholds)
  • a number of employees (less than 5? 50? 500?)

So then, we are now faced with the question, how do we define “Content creation”?

Is it simply “creating a document of some sort and any size, so that something that did not exist, now does?”

Or does it require a greater degree of creativity and involvement in the process?

So readers:  I was wondering how you would define “Content Creation” and what amount of additional creativity do you believe needs to be brought to the process?  Please–comment here so others can see your thoughts!