Skip to comments.Stop the Blogging Madness (New Study Shows Blogs Are Almost Totally Irrelevant to Public Discourse)
Posted on 08/27/2003 8:08:12 PM PDT by Timesink
Stop the Blogging Madness
It only seems as if everyone is doing it. A new survey suggests that blogging may always be more for fun than for profit.
By Jimmy Guterman, August 27, 2003
"Blogs have emerged as a potent business tool," said an executive quoted in a press release I received earlier this week from a firm in Memphis. "We feel the technology has great potential for our clients because it offers an opportunity for ..."
OK, just stop right there. I've had enough.
I enjoy reading blogs and (every now and then) posting to my own website. If you believe author David Weinberger's thesis that the Web is composed of "small pieces, loosely joined," then blog postings -- vital to a few, a curiosity to some, irrelevant to most -- are the very point of the medium. Network designer and inventor Tim Berners-Lee imagined the Web as a two-way medium, as easy to write on as to read. The current crop of intuitive, relatively reliable blogging tools lets the Web live up to that original promise. And many Net companies are betting (either financially or conceptually) on blogs. Google acquired and is integrating Blogger, a blog-creating website, into its core services. Many software companies are specializing in bringing blogging and blog-aggregating services to businesses. AOL (AOL), which shares a parent company with this website, is including blogs as a high-profile part of its new online service. Yahoo (YHOO) and others are testing the potential of blogs too.
Several years into the phenomenon, even with solid tools like Blogger available, the blogging community is still, for the most part, self-absorbed and elitist. There's only minimal evidence that anyone is using the blog format as a business tool. And, other than Drudge and Pud, can you think of anyone making a living off of blogging? Even the often interesting and provocative postings from top-tier bloggers like Dan Gillmor, Dave Winer, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger are endlessly self-referential. They're all quoting one another, sending readers in a circle. It's like a revolving door with no escape. And so much of the talk is inside baseball: "RSS," "Daypop," "Technorati," "Blogdex," and "Link Cosmos" mean nothing to those not steeped in blog culture. The medium itself is still the main topic of conversation. Boring. No wonder so few people read blogs.
You don't have to believe me on this. Finally, some data asserts that blogs are hardly a popular pursuit. If anything, blogging is more marginal than its critics contend. Forrester Research (FORR) conducted an online survey of 3,673 people and found that 79 percent of its respondents had never heard of blogs, 98 percent had never read one, and 98 percent said they'd never pay to read or write one. Blogs can be wonderful things, but if a mere 2 percent of Internet users read blogs, the pastime is far from mainstream. The Forrester survey notes that the typical blog reader has been using the Web for an average of six years. For the most part, blogs feature the Net elite writing to the Net elite. This continues to be the case only as long as the elite are underemployed.
Quality blogging requires ample free time. Just like online games, the number of active blogs will, I suspect, experience a dip in popularity once people return to the workforce. Just as it's hard to stay up all night playing EverQuest regularly if you have to be at your desk at 9 a.m., it's hard to comment on multiple webpages if you have to use your computer for something other than aimless surfing. The notion of an online diary is powerful, and I have no doubt that, ultimately, it will inch toward the mainstream. But today's blog frenzy, in which every journalist, political candidate, and tech exec feels it's a must to sound off on whatever comes to mind, will subside shortly. After all, at least 98 percent of the potential audience doesn't care. Blogging may be fun, daring, comical, and a lot of other wonderful things, but, except in the rarest of cases, it's not essential to business.
Jimmy Guterman is editor-in-chief of the "Gaming Industry Newsletter" and president and founder of the Vineyard Group, a consultancy.
That's the point.
Even the often interesting and provocative postings from top-tier bloggers like Dan Gillmor, Dave Winer, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger are endlessly self-referential. They're all quoting one another, sending readers in a circle. It's like a revolving door with no escape. And so much of the talk is inside baseball: "RSS," "Daypop," "Technorati," "Blogdex," and "Link Cosmos" mean nothing to those not steeped in blog culture. The medium itself is still the main topic of conversation. Boring. No wonder so few people read blogs.
And your comment was
Blogs are fun, but the so-called "A-listers" need to start realizing that their overall effect is zero.
I'd have to day I agree with the first quote above, but I think both the writer of the article and yourself are drawing the wrong conclusion. I'm certainly not one of those "A-listers" (I don't even have a blog, or I'd be posting there instead of here). But as a very early adopter, I guess I am part of the "net elite", which has definitely begun to make blogs one of their main sources of information.
And I think the resulting effect is bigger than surveys would tend to pick up. Here's my biggest evidence. I read several blogs, and I've noticed a growing trend that I will see analysis of a topic in a blog that is not present in any of the major media (I read them too). Then a few days later, I will see that same analysis start to show up in the major media.
I've also noticed FR posters using analysis from blogs. In some senses, FR itself is a giant group blog.
In every field there are "influencers" and "early adopters" who have effects far beyond their numbers. I think that's where blogs stand today. I don't dispute the numbers, but I strongly believe the effect is considerably greater than the "zero" you believe.
It's also indicative that the term "Instalanche" has been coined. That means the overloading of a server because Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, has cited an article on that server. If he's having no effect, how could he overload media servers?
if a mere 2 percent of Internet users read blogs, the pastime is far from mainstream.
Duh, no kidding. But 90-some percent of Internet users are gormless people wrestling with AOL. They think that Bill Gates invented the computer. They influence nothing; they spend their spare time watching prolefeed on the telly; they are moved by sound bites and slogans, and choose their President based on a tie colour or hairstyle. If they vote at all...
It doesn't matter that 2 percent of net users read blogs. It matters which 2 percent.
A very ironic op-ed, coming from a guy who writes a video-game newsletter. How dreadfully kewl.
Criminal Number 18F
OP: EXPANDING FREEPDOM Update -- Build the Free Republic Blog Network!
Posted on 07/23/2003 9:42 PM PDT by Political Numbers Guy
Operation Expanding Freepdom continues to grow by leaps and bounds with new Freeper blogs coming out of the woodwork and joining our network everyday. I can barely keep up! Thank you to everyone who has participated so far, and if you want to know how to start your own blog, read on or click here, here, or here.
Despite sensible voices like Andrew Sullivan, James Lileks, and Glenn Reynolds, blogging is being portrayed as the medium for left-wing candidates and activists. Therefore, I'd like to begin a feature where we spotlight leading examples of conservative activism in the blogosphere. Here are three excellent election-oriented blogs that are taking the fight right to the liberals. Visit them, bookmark them, and link to them:
And... drumroll please!... here is the latest Free Republic Blog Directory as part of Operation Expanding Freepdom!
A Guy Named Rob
The Angry Clam
The Blog That Care Forgot
The Buzz Blog
Redcloak's Romper Room
The View from Arlen
If you run one of these sites, make sure you link to the blogs on this list. Many of you are new to the medium and are still trying to attract readers. The best, most proven way to get readers is to link to other good conservative blogs and they will in turn link to you. (To see which sites have linked to you, go to Technorati.com and type in your blog address.)
Funny, never heard of any of these people, and I read blogs widely.
Stephen Den Beste sometimes gets 15,000 page views per day. He may well have more readers than Thomas Friedman, unless one believes that every reader of the New York Times reads Friedman's editorials.
Blogs are endlessly self-referential. They're all quoting one another, sending readers in a circle. It's like a revolving door with no escape. And so much of the talk is inside baseball: "RSS," "Daypop," "Technorati," "Blogdex," and "Link Cosmos" mean nothing to those not steeped in blog culture.
That is true, and it puts many people off. Also, just as on FreeRepublic, blogs are commentary. They rely on the continued existence of mainstream media and their worldwide networks of reporters. In that sense, blogs are piggybacking on "other people's money".
Well put. Looking at another example, the Weekly Standard has a circulation of only about 35,000, and no-one doubts its influence - because of who those 35,000 are.
This is FREEDOM! People aren't limited anymore to what the mainstream media want to filter thru to them.
That doesn't mean it's not fun!
We're a different kind of elite. Elite mouth breathers.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.