July 20th, 2006

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Survey of the Blogosphere

Today's New York Times has an article that I imagine would be of interest to most of you: "Survey of the Blogosphere Finds 12 Million Voices" by Felicia R. Lee. To summarize, the Pew Internet & American Life Project released a report yesterday noting that about 12 million American adults keep blogs and 57 million American adults read blogs.

Much of what's in the report seems rather expected. The plurality of bloggers use their blogs as personal journals, and the majority of bloggers are under the age of 30. Interestingly enough, bloggers are more diverse than the general Internet population. The article notes that 74% of Internet users are white, but only 60% of bloggers are.

But it's more the use of a blog as a personal journal that I find interesting. According to the report, most bloggers have never been published elsewhere, which makes sense given their relative youth. But the majority of people aren't viewing their blogging as a way to publish their work. They view their blogging as a way to share the details of their personal lives.

In some ways, I imagine that it makes it harder to compose a personal letter once a year updating friends and family about one's life. If they're already keeping up with your blog, what new information would you have to share?

The reason the survey fascinates me, however, is that it reminds me that what I see every day on the blogosphere is not the standard thing others see.

My own F-list aggregator tends to give a skewed view of the blogosphere. I tend to read the blogs of the people who chose to read mine. Consequently, although I see the blogs of a self-selected group of friends -- that is, those friends who have chosen to blog -- I also see a lot of blogs of aspiring and working science fiction and fantasy writers. As a result, sometimes I go through the day thinking that everyone out there is or wants to be a writer. And the currently published writers use their blogs partly as a personal journal, but also as a way to promote their published work.

In the end, however, for the vast majority of people blogging isn't just setting up a soapbox from which to pontificate. It's a way to stay in touch with friends and family, with more immediacy than we've ever had before.

The survey does make me curious, though, about the people who are reading here, so for those who would like to participate, feel free to vote in the non-scientific poll in my next post.

Copyright © Michael Burstein
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Poll: Why Do You Blog?

[To understand the reasons behind this poll, please see my previous post, Survey of the Blogosphere.]

Poll #774048 Why Do You Blog?

I blog for the following reasons (check all that apply):

As a personal journal
4(5.2%)
To promote my published work
0(0.0%)
To talk about topics that interest me
4(5.2%)
I don't blog, but I use my journal to read blogs
1(1.3%)
Other (please explain in comments)
2(2.6%)

I primarily blog about (check all that apply):

My personal life
8(10.5%)
Movies
0(0.0%)
Television
0(0.0%)
Science fiction
0(0.0%)
Writing
3(3.9%)
Politics
0(0.0%)
Science
0(0.0%)
Religion
0(0.0%)
Other (please explain in comments)
0(0.0%)

I consider myself either an aspiring or working writer.

Yes
49(64.5%)
No
27(35.5%)


Copyright © Michael Burstein
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Special to the Swag Report

My wife receives swag at Dawes Landing!:


Yesterday, as I was heading to the 66 bus, there was a pair of young men (I'd say early to mid-20s) offering people bottles of cold water. They were very polite, asking simply, "Would you like a bottle of water," nothing else. I accepted the offer of water (I never turn down water in the summer), and only discovered then that along with the bottle of water they were handing out a business card for Hope Fellowship Church in Porter Square, Cambridge...