We’re All Content Creators Now
The year 2020 saw us spending a lot more time on video calls. Increasingly, the home office looks like a space for content creators. What does this mean for us?
Fire up the ring light. Check the microphone and video settings. Make sure it all looks good on screen. Maybe tidy up the room a little, so it looks good on screen. Going live in 3, 2, 1.
Of course, I’m describing the new reality for millions of people who now regularly work from home. If it sounded like the setup for a YouTuber or live streamer, then that makes sense. Because we’re all content creators now.
Back when I left high school, there were certain skills that we take for granted these days. Formatting some interesting text and graphics and printing it out was called desktop publishing. If you wanted to project words onto a big screen so everyone in the room could see them, you used an overhead projector. But anything fancier – with colours, for example – required expensive, professionally produced slides. Even creating spreadsheets was the sort of thing that required training.
Every decade we’ve seen the ability to use technologies go from being a bonus skill to an assumed item on your CV. Typing, data entry, and presenting information on the web were specialist skills once. Now they are daily life for anyone with an Instagram account.
Now a new skill is assumed: content creation.
How We All Became Content Creators
Video conferencing has been around for a long time, whether it’s the Zoom call at work or Facetime and Skype for personal use. But the whole area exploded in 2020. Live video went from a thing we sometimes did to a way of life. We took to cameras and screens in a way we never had before.
The year 2020 was when office workers and educators discovered ring lights and good quality microphones. Just as there was a rush on office chairs and monitors as people built home offices, there was a surge in demand for lighting panels and high-definition streaming cameras.
The perfect home office suddenly became a lot more like the den of a live streamer or YouTuber. Because we are all content creators now.
Content Creation As A Core Work Skill
The cost of creating video has suddenly gone down, and the expectations around video have changed. Video no longer requires a team or professionals to produce. Livestreams are being saved and reused. People are recording at their desks and in their homes. And in many jobs, agility around performing on video is a requisite.
This has a bunch of implications for the way we work.
Workers are being forced to adjust their comfort levels. C-suite executives who used to appear only in polished studio settings now post from home offices. Workers who might’ve been used to a degree of anonymity now have to be on screen. And videos that were once produced as long-lasting artifacts are now disposable. It’s a bit like the way the office memo went from the work of many (typist, typesetter, printer) to the work of one via email.
But are we ready for this proliferation of video? Our inboxes never really adjusted to the explosion of email traffic. What’s going to happen when the number of videos we need to watch goes up?
In the arts, the role of video also accelerated in 2020. For many musicians, live-stream concerts became the way to survive. The camera’s place in the music and rehearsal space is permanent now.
The Challenge Of Universal Content Creation
All this presents a parallel set of challenges. To thrive in a video-forward world, we need to develop new skills, or enhance the ones we have. And those of us who teach or work with younger people need to encourage the mastery of video skills. Yes, a lot of learning is happening online right now. But with video, there’s a big difference between coping and thriving.
In the words of my favorite Veggie Tales episode, “The Future Is Now”. It’s time we figure out how to master video, because seeing ourselves on screen is not a trend that will be reversed anytime soon.