The Rise of the Blog

Some extrapolated numbers to crunch relating to the growth of blogging in the US, and possibly elsewhere, as reported on the BBC website, and courtesy of surveys by Pew Internet & American Life Project – of 120 million online US adults, [7% or] 8 million say they have created blogs; blog readership jumped 58% in 2004 and now stands at 27% of [US] internet users [up from 17% in Feb 2004], that’s 32 million readers, and 12% of the 120 million total online have posted comments or other material on blogs.. but 62% of online US adults still don’t know what a blog is.

Although restricted in their survey to the US, it is likely that these stats reflect a similar(if less pronounced) pattern elsewhere even though, as the survey report[pdf file] points out, the catalyst for this surge in US blog activity would appear to be the US Presidential election – 9% of internet users said they read political blogs “frequently” or “sometimes” during the campaign.

On blog creators (are you reading this Mick?), the survey reported that –
Blog creators are more likely to be:
• Men: 57% are male
• Young: 48% are under age 30
• Broadband users: 70% have broadband at home
• Internet veterans: 82% have been online for six years or more
• Relatively well off financially: 42% live in households earning over $50,000
• Well educated: 39% have college or graduate degrees

Meanwhile, you, kind(or otherwise) reader, are somewhat more of a mainstream group than bloggers themselves. Like bloggers, blog readers are more likely[but not by much if those other figures are to be believed] to be young, male, well educated, internet veterans. Still, since our survey February, there has been greater-than-average growth in blog readership among women, minorities, those between the ages of 30 and 49, and those with home dialup connections. – no apparent data published to define that growth though.

Only 32% of those asked felt confident that they knew what a blog actually was – Those who knew about blogs were well educated, internet veterans (about half of those with at least six years of experience knew what a blog is), and heavy users of the internet. In contrast, the internet users who did not know about blogs were relative newbies to the internet, less fervent internet users, and those with less educational attainment.

There’s another question to be asked here, which the survey seems to ignore, but that I think would be interesting to see the answers to – What other sources of news and information do bloggers/readers frequently access? I’d suspect that the answers to that question would show why, especially in the US, the mainstream media is increasingly wary of the blogosphere – not simply because it’s a growing audience, but because it’s, primarily, part of the same audience reading both sources of information and comparing the two.

There is a significant caveat with all this, and, as you should expect, it’s about the collection of data and margin of error – These results come from two nationwide telephone surveys conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project: One was in the field between November 4 and November 22 and involved interviews 1,324 internet users. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. The other was conducted between November 23 and November 30 and involved interviews with 537 internet users. That has a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points.

  • Glyn

    The rise of the blog means that we can hear from experts and specialists in fields in which we are interested without them being filtered through the perceptions of newspaper editors and reporters.

    On the downside, it will of course mean that Slugger O’Toole will need to increase his staff to keep track of everything!

    As an example of what I mean, take a look at this weblog commentary on a specialist linguistics site about the likely demise of the Irish language, it’s the December 30 entry:

  • peteb

    Your first point is, indeed, very true Glyn. As the blog becomes more ubiquitous, the more diverse content is likely to be available and, as you point out, with some of that content, the information will no longer have to be explained to a reporter first.

    Not sure that any blog could, or should, attempt to keep track of everything! Although Mick might not agree 😉

    My other point was, though, that the filtering is not restricted to just the fields you mention. The increased readerships of blogs will, for the most part, continue to read and watch other media sources.. the comparison of the filtering that takes place is likely to have an effect on both the mainstream media and blogs.

    (BTW Hope you don’t mind, I fixed your link)

  • maca

    Good link Glyn, thanks!

  • D’Oracle

    For the 62% everywhere-whats a blog?

    Amazing statistics ; just think how different the world would be if more people blogged?

    Would Bush be president? Would …

  • Glyn

    Thanks Peteb.

    My apologies but I think I accidentally proved my own point by distorting the meaning of that article. It does NOT say that the Irish language will die out, that was my misreading, and a more direct link is

    In response to Peteb’s second point, we’re going to need more and more sites that amass information from individual sources, whether from newsprints such as this one, or from webblogs (an example would be Jeff Jarvis’s site). If not, then we’ll be overwhelmed by random information and, for the sake of sanity confine ourselves to a number of known sites. Out of interest, does anyone visit more or less sites each week than they did a year or so ago?

    Anyway, I’ll get my coat.