1. New Content and Who Makes It

New Content and Who Makes It
In the 1990s, when CD-ROMs of reference materials (including dictionaries, encyclopedias, and various other educational works) became widely available, more than half of the content was repurposed from existing material (Holtzman, 1998, p. 13). I would argue that the first phase of reference works on the Internet extended this practice of repurposing existing content. Much content moved from books, then to CD-ROM, and then to websites, while scant new content was created. In the era of Web 2.0, it seems that certain Internet sites have met great success by having its users create the content. Wikipedia, far and away, the world’s largest, most comprehensive encyclopedia has been created in less than a decade through a well-organized mass collaboration. It now has three million entries, whereas Dr. Samuel Johnson, in the 18th century, took ten years to create 40,000 definitions on his own. Video hosting sites collectively host millions of videos, some old and some new. Sites like YouTube have thrived on user-created content (UCC). Flickr, a photo-sharing site, now provides a searchable catalogue of user-uploaded photos, which covers almost every corner of the globe. Google’s 3D Warehouse has a library of user-created models of famous buildings around the world. The founders of sites such as Wikipedia, YouTube, and Flickr have created no new content themselves, but rather provided a concept and solid computer engineering, and then let their community of users create the content.
Based on the success of the aforementioned UCC-generated sites, there are a great number of fledgling Internet sites which also invite users to create and upload content. Many of these sites are well designed and planned, but seem to have little in the way of user activity or content. While these smaller-scale sites cannot even attract an audience of passive viewers, they certainly cannot tempt people to devote their free time to create new content for free. While I also want to create the means by which users can take part in the creation of Vidtionary, I do not think Vidtionary can reasonably expect user contributions until it has built up a passive audience to begin with. To build a passive audience, it needs to have enough content that it is useful. The main source, then, for Vidtionary content in the beginning will be the videos I create myself. The quickest video definitions I make take around two hours, while other videos might take me up to six hours. I think that as I create more video definitions, my techniques will become more efficient, and I will build up an arsenal of tricks and templates to speed up the process. Hopefully, my workflow will become efficient enough that I can get as many as three or four videos done in an 8-hour work day. By this calculation, one hundred days of work could bring me to 300 or 400 videos. Vidtionary currently has about 50 videos, some of which I intend to revise. The numbers are somewhat arbitrary, but I feel that once Vidtionary has 500 videos there will be enough that teachers and students will start to use it regularly. Naturally, if Vidtionary ever gains momentum and a wide base of users creating content, then there needs to be no limit on the number of videos. Even though I do not expect much in the way of user-submitted content in the early stages of the site’s development, I intend to post information on the Vidtionary website on how to submit videos, and I also intend to create guides and tutorials which recommend software and explain how the video definitions are created.
While the Internet makes available many of the prerequisites for creating a video dictionary, it does remain the case that a small minority of Internet-users can comfortably combine video, text, and sound into a new video. This relates to the lack of visual literacy in the education system, which I touched on in the literature review. Schools teach students how to type and how to use a word processor, but do not go further than this. Thus, editing a text-based website such as Wikipedia is going to have a lower entry-level for collaboration in terms of computer skills. My perception is that the majority of user-created videos uploaded to YouTube and similar sites are simple videos, often shot on a consumer camera and then uploaded with hardly any editing at all. Part of the problem is that adequate video editing software is expensive, and only in recent years has computer hardware in consumer computers been up to the task of video editing. Furthermore, as most consumer video cameras now shoot in HD, computers have needed to become faster still to process the higher resolution.