Blog This

A new survey on blogging published by Pew Internet will not provide many surprises for bloggers, but the media is currently going around acting all shocked.

The biggest surprise for newspapers seems to be that such a large percentage of people aren’t blogging about politics. Says The Washington Post:
They're young. They're addicted to instant messaging and social networks. And they're more apt to dish about the drama at last night's party than the president's latest faux pas.

Yeah, OK: that’s one way to interpret the data Pew Internet presented, but there are others. Let’s look at the numbers and data. It’s actually pretty interesting stuff.

According to Pew, approximately eight per cent of adult Internet users -- about 12 million -- are bloggers. And about 39 per cent of Internet users -- about 57 million -- read those blogs. Which explains why we’ve been hearing the “blog” word in the media so much lately: that’s a lot of eyes that advertisers would like to figure out how to exploit. (These things tend to go together. “Lookit all them people standing over there together! How can we make ‘em buy our stuff?”)

The exploitation challenge will be that, according to Pew, most of us aren’t doing this blogging thing for money (well, duh) and we’re not even doing it for our potential readers as much as, for one reason and another, we’re blogging for ourselves.

“Blogs are as individual as the people who keep them,” says senior research specialist Andrea Lenhart, “but this survey shows that most bloggers are primarily interested in creative, personal expression. Blogs make it easy to document individual experiences, share practical knowledge, or just keep in touch with friends and family.”

Here are some of the facts that emerged from the survey as presented by Pew, along with some comments, because I can't resist makin’ ’em.

• 54% of bloggers say that they have never published their writing or media creations anywhere else; 44% say they have published elsewhere.

Though let’s look at that another way: That means that nearly half of bloggers out there are journalists and writers published in other mediums.

• 54% of bloggers are under the age of 30.

So... nearly half of those currently blogging are older than 30. (The knife that cuts both ways.)

• Women and men have statistical parity in the blogosphere, with women representing 46% of bloggers and men 54%.

Pretty much like... I dunno... life?

• 76% of bloggers say a reason they blog is to document their personal experiences and share them with others.

• 64% of bloggers say a reason they blog is to share practical knowledge or skills with others.

Since these two together add up to more than 100 per cent, I think it’s safe to say that most of us don’t have a single reason for blogging. We want to share, we want to document. Plus, you know, it’s easy. And we can.

• When asked to choose one main subject, 37% of bloggers say that the primary topic of their blog is "my life and experiences."

• Other topics ran distantly behind: 11% of bloggers focus on politics and government; 7% focus on entertainment; 6% focus on sports; 5% focus on general news and current events; 5% focus on business; 4% on technology; 2% on religion, spirituality or faith; and additional smaller groups who focus on a specific hobby, a health problem or illness, or other topics.

This is one of the biggest of the big no surprise ones: we’re blogging about everything. We knew that, too.

Here’s my favorite factoid:
They are also heavy users of the internet in general. Forty-four percent of bloggers have taken material they find online – like songs, text, or images – and remixed it into their own artistic creation. By comparison, just 18% of all internet users have done this. A whopping 77% of bloggers have shared something online that they created themselves, like their own artwork, photos, stories, or videos. By comparison, 26% of internet users have done this.

How cool is that? And what emerges, I think, is the blog as personal space for creative expression. More: a medium for creative expression because blogging inspires something different then, say, a watercolor field kit or a chunk of clay.

The Pew Internet Project “produces reports that explore the social impact of the internet.” They’re also worth a look.

Though results have been published, Pew is still collecting data (I imagine maybe the always will. This is an evolving topic.) You can take the 40 question survey yourself to see what the fuss is about.


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