3 mars 2004

How many bloggers are there?

MarketingWonk’s Rick E. Bruner kicks CNN and Pew around in one of his latest posts. He’s scandalised that someone would say that there aren’t that many bloggers out there. At the centre of this controversy are Pew Project’s latest report America's Online Pursuits: The changing picture of who's online and what they do as well as CNN’s news (from AP) covering it.

Essentially, what Rick and other bloggers (including Doc Searls, Jeff Jarvis and Rogers Cadenhead) are saying is that the glass is half full while Big Media (represented by AP and/or CNN) is saying the glass is half empty. Tom Murphy and I fall somewhere in the middle. (Typical for communications people, you say? Heh.)

My take: Blog writers (and blog readers) are early adopters. And that, as far as I’m concerned, is a good thing.

I remember using a personal computer for my high school work in the 80s, getting my first cell phone in 1992 (it was heavy) and my first email address in 1994 or so. The fact that adopted those technologies early on has helped me in my career. And I think that when blogs do hit the mainstream, I’ll be better positioned to take advantage of that. Heck, I’m already taking advantage of it in numerous ways.

What I haven’t found in Pew’s research is anything about “frequency of posting.” And that, in my humble opinion, is key to the experience.

Luckily, Perseus (they develop and implement web-based market research surveys) published a white paper covering just that last October (along with accompanying news release).

(…) Perseus Development Corp. randomly surveyed 3,634 blogs (…) on eight leading blog-hosting services (…) Based on this research, Perseus estimates that 4.12 million blogs have been created on these services (…)

(…) Perseus expects the number of hosted blogs created to exceed five million by the end of 2003 and to exceed ten million by the end of 2004.

The most dramatic finding from the survey was that 66.0% of surveyed blogs had not been updated in two months, representing 2.72 million blogs that have been either permanently or temporarily abandoned. (…) In fact, 1.09 million blogs were one-day wonders, with no postings on subsequent days. The average duration of the remaining 1.63 million abandoned blogs was 126 days (almost four months). (…)

Blogs are famed for their linkages, and while 80.8% of active blogs linked to at least one external site from a post on their home page, these links were rarely to traditional news sources. Blogs are updated much less often than generally thought. Active blogs were updated on average every 14 days. Only 106,579 of the hosted blogs were updated on average at least once a week. Fewer than 50,000 were updated daily.
Let me repeat that: “Only 106,579 of the hosted blogs were updated on average at least once a week. Fewer than 50,000 were updated daily.” Well, at least it makes me feel good about my posting frequency.

And, just to conclude this way-too-long post, on the issue of the number of existing blogs, I say “Who cares?” A colleague of mine has created (and abandoned) two blogs totalling something like 12 posts in the last six months. Just goes to say that the “number of blogs” stat isn’t all that important.

Blogs will be mainstream (I’m sure), they just aren’t there yet.
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