In the hullaballoo of the blogs ban controversy, this report by Pew Internet and American Life [PDF link] hit the news wires over the weekend. Since no one [to my understanding] has written about it in the desi blogosphere, I might as well take a stab at it. First of all, it is America-centric and bloggers inquisitive about India might have to stick with this amateur yet insightful report.
Called Internet’s New Storytellers, the bloggers have expectedly increased manifold. almost one in three Americans who use the Internet (57 million) read at least one blog regularly. Half of the bloggers spend less than two hours updating their blog. I know a majority of the bloggers I know spend far more time not only updating their blogs but also indulging in networking with fellow bloggers, participating in collective efforts, and of course adding bells and whistles to their cyber home.
Although most of the popular blogs focus on politics and current events, the majority i.e. 37% of bloggers cite “my life and experiences” as a primary topic of their blog. This blog incidentally would also fall in that cateogy (check out the archives and click on ‘categories’, if you don’t believe me). Expressing your creativity [writing], sharing life experiences, social networking with friends and family, sharing knowledge and skills, and motivating people are some of the top reasons to blog. So don’t ever say that you are blogging just for yourself; chances are you are not.
85% of the bloggers are not in it to make money. At the same time, only 34% of bloggers consider their work as some form of journalism but almost 57% of bloggers link to original sources and verify facts depicting a need to adhere to journalistic standards. Point to be noted, creativity is not necessarily compromised if you do the above.
Unlike other vocations and indulgences, the blogosphere is evenly split among men and women and although only 54% of bloggers are under 30, proving that blogs aren’t the prerogative of the youth. However, the most interesting finding according to me is that only 60% of the bloggers are white compared to 74% of Internet users, so effectively the minorities are making getting their voice out, if not getting heard.
I am not alone in using a pseudonym on the blogosphere; 55% of bloggers do so. Almost 87% of bloggers allow comments so there is still a lot of scope of interaction out there. But the blogosphere yet is not RSS-friendly; only 18% offer a RSS feed. I am skeptical of this figure since the interviewers may have asked if they do and most not knowing about RSS feeds may have answered in the negative. If you are on Blogspot or Typepad, your feeds are turned on unless you specifically turn them off.
One of the more heartening findings, as ARS Technica suggests:
With every conceivable political niche having its own Internet outpost, critics fear that the Internet could fragment into a set of like-minded communities. The Pew study shows that the opposite is also true. Instead of reading only sites with which they agree, nearly half of the general Internet population reads news and blogs without a particular political slant, and nearly a quarter of all readers actively seek out sources that challenge their own views. While political message boards can make one fear for the future of a democracy in which people can no longer debate and disagree well, the new study provides evidence that many Internet users refuse to lock themselves inside a political ghetto.
Given the current scenario of the government trying to protect us from an contrarian viewpoint, I find this result heartening that people are taking the effort to educate themselves on the ‘other side’s perspective’. More information is always better.
So dear bloggers, whatever reasons you blog for, keep at it.
Update: The results from UK.