The true worth of the adult collectors of digital content


I read Phil Guest of Sulake’s response to your ’Children’s Collectables’ feature (MW 17 February) with interest; he gave some valuable insight into the way teenagers collect and trade virtual goods as their interests shift online.

The New Definition of Childhood research didn’t mean to imply that collecting drops off as children get older – it simply develops. Our research focused on European 6- to 11-year-olds but, as we all know, adults are often inveterate collectors.

In fact, in the digital realm, collectors of content (of any age) are an influential bunch. As Forrester Research notes, these collectors tend to classify and organise content for the rest of us to find and use; adding tags to photos in locations like Flickr and Facebook; voting content up or down on sites like Digg and Reddit; making Twitter lists of people to follow that might share their interests. They also ’like’ content that then spreads across the social graph.

In many ways collectors represent the human-moderated network, as opposed to the algorithm/machine-moderated network. If a Google search, for example, is moderated largely by the algorithm, services like Wikipedia and Delicious are moderated by people.

Digital collectors, of all ages, are incrementally laying the semantic foundations of the future network.

Phil Dearson
Head of digital
The Marketing Store

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