Bad weather and airline woes kept Director Lee Rainie from traveling to Melbourne, Australia to address the VALA – Libraries, Technology, and the Future conference. In this speech and these slides (below) for his talk, Lee discusses the democratization of media and the rise of user-generated content.

Lee argues that the creation of personal media is a social networking activity. As a consequence, there are several new kinds of activities that have become popular thanks to the growth of social media: 1) networked individuals can produce content online that helps them expand their social network and increase their social standing by building an audience; 2) they can use social media to create social posses to solve problems; and 3) they can construct just-in-time-just-like-me support groups through telling their stories and building archives or links to others’ content and 4) they can reshape the media environment with a new set of interests, civic values, and news sensibilities.

Compared to traditional media makers, these new creators frame information in new ways and adopt a different tone in their creations. Lee says studies from the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and the Project for Excellence in Journalism mirror the material from the United Kingdom that prompted William Dutton of the Oxford Internet Institute to argue that social media creators constitute a Fifth Estate of civic actors.

Click here to download the text of the speech