Thursday, February 28, 2008

"There Are No Boys on the Internet"

Yeah, you probably heard it the other way around, and it used to be a good (if cheeky) rule of thumb.

I ran across an entry on Furdlog that linked to a NYTimes article that implied otherwise, though:

Research shows that among the youngest Internet users, the primary creators of Web content (blogs, graphics, photographs, Web sites) are not misfits resembling the Lone Gunmen of “The X Files.” On the contrary, the cyberpioneers of the moment are digitally effusive teenage girls.

“Most guys don’t have patience for this kind of thing,” said Nicole Dominguez, 13, of Miramar, Fla., whose hobbies include designing free icons, layouts and “glitters” (shimmering animations) for the Web and MySpace pages of other teenagers. “It’s really hard.”

Nicole posts her graphics, as well as her own HTML and CSS computer coding pointers (she is self-taught), on the pink and violet, a domain her mother bought for her in October.

“If you did a poll I think you’d find that boys rarely have sites,” she said. “It’s mostly girls.”

You need to be a bit careful here: it's still probably mostly males playing various online games and whatnot. What interests me here is that the Internet content creation is so ridiculously mainstream that it's become the province of teenage girls.

Sure, they're well known as THE key demo for media consumption, but this is a bit different. What we're seeing is the promise of the Internet finally coming to pass: the simplicity and low (read: nonexistent) cost of creativity is affecting an entire generation of kids. Yes, it may only be sparklies spelling out "princess", but it's still an act of creation, and the idea of a society where creativity is as mainstream as consumption is a very exciting one. At least for me.

(Yes, yes, they still aren't getting into science and technology enough, as the article points out. That is a problem, but I don't think learning HTML is going to damage their interest in programming any. Heck, they might even start learning Javascript, Java, or even Perl or Python.)

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