Creative expression

One of the reasons the internet is so popular is that it allows young people many methods of personal and creative expression. This article highlights some of the key forms of expression, such as blogging, using the internet to create and share media, and the remix and fan culture phenomenon.

This will help you to:

  • understand how the internet is used for creative expression
  • learn about different methods of expression
  • talk to young people about internet use
Young women looking at ipad smiling

How do people express themselves online?

Young people use internet and social media in a variety of ways to express themselves and to try different interests. Some of the key ways young people use the internet for creative expression include:


Blogs are websites that are much like diaries or journals in which the blog owner regularly posts entries. Some blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as places to share personal experiences. The blogger can personalise the settings to filter what they want readers to access, and readers can often filter the content by both author and topic. They often combine text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, or online media.

Many also have the ability for readers to leave comments, meaning that a post becomes a conversation. Groups can also be created on many blogging platforms, so that many bloggers can post to the same blog, and users can subscribe to a group and read anything posted to that group. Strong social networks can form when bloggers comment on each other's blogs, collaborate on content, and support each other in creative or critical endeavours. Blogs can be a way for writers in particular, but also artists and musicians, to announce that they've completed a new work, and get feedback, be it constructive criticism or just encouragement to continue.

While most blogs are primarily text based, there are emerging trends toward photo-blogging, video-blogging (vlogs), and audio (podcasting).

Micro-blogging is also gaining popularity, particularly with the rise of Twitter. This involves blogs with very short posts (often entered from mobile phones), often providing live feedback on events. TV shows like QandA may invite feedback by promoting an official hashtag (a tag via which topics are searched for and found) and publishing audience comments at the bottom of the screen, creating a more interactive experience.

Media sharing

Users can also post audio, video, photography and artwork to a wide range of hosting sites. YouTube and Vimeo are video hosting sites that are widely used. Flickr is an image hosting site commonly used by photographers. DeviantArt is an example of an art hosting site.

Themed hosting sites are often used in preference to a generic image hosting site because of the community surrounding it, and the ways users can search and review content. However, even on big sites like YouTube, the use of tagging allows specific content to be connected and found by theme. Tags are essentially descriptive keywords (or metadata), which users assign to media, allowing it to be categorised and browsed.

Young people have more access to recording and editing equipment than ever before, and generating content for other people to discover can be a popular pastime. As well as being rewarding for the level of interest a work can generate, it can be a great way for young people to learn and develop diverse skills, from sketching to video-editing to website coding.

Remix and fan culture

Sometimes, the materials posted are not completely original but are "remixed". The simplest method of this is macros, or image captioning, where a picture is submitted with a humorous caption. These are really low investment user generated content, but individual images can become really popular or "go viral", as can video with fake subtitles added. Images can also be "photoshopped" or digitally manipulated, again, often for humour.

Fans of various media often create a wide range of multimedia works, including fan art, vids, anime music videos, political remixes, fan films, fan trailers, machinima, podfic, audiobooks and others. These transformative works can become just as popular, if not more so, than the original sources.


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