Wednesday, October 15, 2003


Whilst in mid-snobjump last night I happened upon the slightly embittered post of an unfulfilled weblogger. He posed the question, why so few comments vis-a-vis views of his dutifully regular postings? Of course I left a comment. It was the least I could do.

Unfortunately, I fear I was somewhat flippant as I am wont to do. I callously pointed out that a 1:10 ratio of comments to viewings was to be expected if not applauded. Now mind you I'm not backing down from that observation, I'm just saying that maybe I aught to have been a little more empathetic considering my own position.

By now a few of you out there (that means you Yip Yip) have started to snigger, perhaps had a thought or two about my eating crow and such. Well never mind all of that because for a change there is a point to this post; that being that most of us intrepid web publishers have had to come to grips with the phenomenon of "The Blogging Iceberg". Somewhere between completing a quiz on which vampire clan I belonged to and a mywebsearch for Thema Hopkins (don't ask) I read a white paper on the staggering growth of the blogospere. Here are the Cliffs notes:-

According to the Perseus Development Corporation study there are an estimated 4.12 million blogs created using hosting services with an average readership of 250 readers per blog. Of those 4 million plus blogs some 66% are inactive, the remainding 34% being updated bi-monthly. Ninety-two point four percent of all bloggers are under the age of 30, 56% of which are female.

In plain English, the study pegs most bloggers as shiftless adolescent females with all the 'stick-to-it-iveness' of dried cellotape; and seems to suggest a meritocracy of regularity, where the value of a blog can be guaged by the frequency of the author's posts.

The eggheads over at Perseus Development Corporation have figured that by the end of 2004 over 10 million blogs will have been created. The consequence of such growth they say is the "nanoaudience".

"That translates into 250 readers per blog ... And this is just an average; in practice many blogs have no more than two dozen readers." Read More

They make the excellent argument that beneath the iceberg's tip of the most popular blogs visited by thousands daily are the millions which are only of interest to friends and family. It should be pointed out though, that the Perseus study is by no means comprehensive; having sampled only 3,634 blogs from the eight leading blog-hosting services, to the exclusion of standalone blogs. It is for this reason that other researchers have produced such strikingly different results whilst studying essentially the same subject matter.

Such is the case with the NITLE data. The National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE) Blog Census seemingly illustrates the reverse of the Perseus findings; and offers possible explanations for the apparent high abandonment rate found in the Perseus study, ie. serial bloggers. Of the 1,372,266 blogs indexed by NITLE, 65% are active.

"The Perseus survey found that 1.09 million blogs were one-day wonders, with no postings on subsequent days, and Ceglowski noted that abandonment often happens rather quickly. "... either someone tries the service out to see what it's about, or they decide that keeping an online journal is not for them; either way, the thing dies after just a handful of posts. Of the ones that are abandoned after a longer time, I believe a sizable proportion move to a new blogging tool."" Read More...

It's too bad for all of us at the watery base of the iceberg that the NITLE Census did not address the nanoaudience issue, so I have no fresh comfort to accord my blogging compeer. Yet something else did get caught in my craw. There is an inherent in the Perseus Study's conclusions the assumption that bloggers en general are desirous of a mass audience. True some of us slavishly join every ring and directory which will have us, painstakingly polishing our '50 characters or less' text adverts and swap link codes like rabbits in heat; but note the use of the indefinite 'some'.

There are the happy many who are content to blithely compose their fortnightly opus to their cats, boyfriends, volkswagon beetles or what have you for the 2.34 readers who expect them to reciprocate. Where's the harm in that?

I sense the trace stink of elitism. All us norms; the non-geeks with extra-cyber lives who couldn't tell the defference between valid script and our bank statements, who are willing to leave the socio-political soap-boxing to those who can generate enough daily bile to do so, who don't have second rung celebrity status to parlee into beaucoup web hits and the inevitable book deal; have trod on sacred coded ground. It's us they're referring to when they sagely discuss search engine noise.

"The content of blogs is frequently (but not always) insubstantial and solipsistic, consisting of little more than links to web content (often on other blogs) and offhand, informal comments. Since there exists an entire 'blogosphere' of blogs linking to one another, the fact that blog content is insubstantial does not prevent it from ranking highly... As Wired News reports, 'with no deliberate effort, many dedicated weblog publishers are finding their blogs rank high on search results for topics that, oftentimes, they claim to know practically nothing about'" Read More...

I'm not even going to bother with the democracy of the web argument, that's defense. Try this. Just how lazy are these people who aren't even willing to plow through a few pages of search results to get the information they want? The internet is not and will never function as a well catalogued library.

As far as that techy weblogger's complaints, well, I'm willing to comment on your posts; whether you like it or not.^_^

5 Ninjas, 1 Kitten and a Fifth of Vodka!