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What's the value of social media to the creator? Charlene Li at Forrester has a social media "ladder of participation" that points out the small percentage of people who create content compared to the much greater percentage of people who collect it, or consume it.

I think more people should aspire to be creators, because the barriers to creation using social media tools are so low and the rewards of Web 2.0 are so rich. I've come to the conclusion that if I were teaching English now (as I did about twenty-five years ago), I would have every student at least create a blog. Why? Because blogging and learning are so powefully interrelated. Blogging not only showcases what the writer knows, but forces her to keep on learning in order to keep on blogging in order to keep on learning. Do I have to go on?

Example: I've been beauty-blogging for as i try to contribute to its increasing success. As a beauty blogger, I've been trying new products and reading about things I would never do (butt-lift) or wish I had done years ago (breast augmentation). Wow, am I on a steep learning curve.

I never realized how hard everybody is looking for the Fountain of Youth. Since the year 2000, the percentage of the American population having cosmetic surgery has dramatically risen. According to a study by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, this is not a phenomenon confined to 90210: a million Hispanic women had "procedures" last year, and the number of Asian-Americans having cosmetic surgery has increased 246%.

I also never realized that every dermatologist and plastic surgeon on the planet has started a skin care line, because it's the best "marketing" tool for surgical procedures. Start taking care of your skin and you are looking in the mirror. At some point, those creams stop working, and you might opt for the laser of the knife.

Actually, this is a cynical view, because I've tried about six products so far on my own face (so I could write about them, but also because I'm not averse to turning back the hands of time) and many of the ones I have tried work VERY well. (Go visit Beauty Cred at Real Self to see what Nancy and I really like). The non-invasive treatments are amazinglyg effective. And if something isn't effective, the RealSelf readers will let us know!

My last big lesson (for now) is that people are remarkably willing and able to share their experiences to help perfect strangers. At Real Self we see the horror stories about cosmetic procedures, topical skin conditions, and inexperienced aesheticians. And we see the cost differentials for the same procedure in different geographies.

I find this experience incredibly rich and fulfilling. Would you like to see a "before and after" photo?