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George Orwell was a blogger.
January 26, 2005 7:01 PM   Subscribe

Blogs are a phenomenon. Technorati, a blog search engine, tracks 6,406,667 blogs. Two years ago, it tracked 100,000. About 27% of adults now read blogs, up from 2% in 2003. But really they're nothing new, says Kevin Maney in USA Today.
posted by rushmc (35 comments total)

 
Writing about blogging being nothing new is nothing new.
posted by Mo Nickels at 7:05 PM on January 26, 2005


Those are some impressive statistics. They say 27% of adults now read blogs? I take it that's just America...but even then, that's much larger than I thought. I wonder how regular that is?

Then again, that first line that 'Thomas Payne was basically a blogger in 1776' makes me suspect that whole article...
posted by cosmonik at 7:12 PM on January 26, 2005


Blogging and discussions about blogging have edged out online porn as the number one method of digital masturbation...
posted by nightchrome at 7:15 PM on January 26, 2005


These days, Internet blogs are all the rage.

There's something very funny about that sentence....
posted by interrobang at 7:19 PM on January 26, 2005


Maybe one of Volokh's 200 or so co-bloggers can blog about this bloggity blog blog blog.
posted by alexwoods at 7:24 PM on January 26, 2005


Today, software tools make it cheap and simple to post personal journals on the Web, so more people do.

Seems to me there was a time when "blogging" was a separate phenomenon from "on-line journaling." Pamphleteering may have been a bit like blogging (there was a Simpson's episode to this effect), but I think the argument for the antiquity of on-line journaling is a lot weaker. That would be more akin to leaving your diary on the subway with the dainty little lock dangling open....
posted by carmen at 7:29 PM on January 26, 2005


Jeez. Take a pill, all you blogomaniacs.

I love the USA Today, when I'm staying at a hotel.
posted by Arch Stanton at 7:33 PM on January 26, 2005


These days, Internet blogs are all the rage.

Opposed to non-Internet blogs?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 7:36 PM on January 26, 2005


"Blogs are really an Internet phenomenon of just the past couple of years."

As opposed to an Edwardian phenomenon.

Whoa, this guy is really onto something... "Internet" phenomenon?

Hmmmm...they've got the Internet on computers now...!"
posted by 1016 at 7:36 PM on January 26, 2005


That bloggers can do what Martin Luther or Thomas Paine did is not the revolution.

That six million bloggers can do what Martin Luther or Thomas Paine did is the revolution.
posted by iJames at 7:39 PM on January 26, 2005


Opposed to non-Internet blogs?

No, as opposed to historical blogs like those of Thomas Paine and Samuel Pepys, which were--for some reason--published on something called "paper".
posted by interrobang at 7:46 PM on January 26, 2005


Sad and wrong that a guy who's covered tech for over a decade is, well, sad and wrong.
posted by 1016 at 7:48 PM on January 26, 2005


To be fair, there are blogs on intranets. Although that's probably not why the writer was making that distinction.
posted by webmutant at 7:48 PM on January 26, 2005


Some background on that 27% number:

Two surveys by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in November established new contours for the blogosphere: 8 million American adults say they have created blogs; blog readership jumped 58% in 2004 and now stands at 27% of internet users; 5% of internet users say they use RSS aggregators or XML readers to get the news and other information delivered from blogs and content-rich Web sites as it is posted online; and 12% of internet users have posted comments or other material on blogs. Still, 62% of internet users do not know what a blog is.
posted by smackfu at 7:48 PM on January 26, 2005


I have talked to a person in the last week who didn't know what a "'blog" was.

I amended it to "weblog", and she still didn't know what it was.

It was weird.

Of course, she's older than I am.
posted by interrobang at 7:56 PM on January 26, 2005


27% of Americans can read? Huh. Who'dathunkit.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:59 PM on January 26, 2005


What percentage of people go to blogs but think of them as just regular websites as opposed to weblogs? That 27% would easily double, I think.
posted by Arch Stanton at 8:01 PM on January 26, 2005


“That six million bloggers can do what Martin Luther or Thomas Paine did is the revolution.” - I would be deeply surprised if even 5% of North Americans over the age of 18 have read a blog in the past year. I bet more than 90% of them masturbated at least once in that time, but that does not mean masturbation will change politics or achieve anything that could be called a revolution.
Blogs are cool but no sign of a revolution yet.
posted by arse_hat at 8:12 PM on January 26, 2005


smackfu: ...and now stands at 27% of internet users

Okay, that makes more sense. 27% of all adults seemed a bit odd. I think I took it out of context.

It's just like saying "Liebnitz was a web site administrator" because he ran a journal. He's connected the printing press, and Luther's use of it, and blogging. Well, they have publishing in common, but that's about it. Take the b out of blog (since there is no web) and it's just a...log.

Still, I think what he's trying to say is right. Blogs are not going to change anything dramatically, but they are a vehicle for a continual process.
posted by cosmonik at 8:13 PM on January 26, 2005


Wow, it's like he thinks "blog" is short for something other than weblog. You can't have weblogs without the web. The amount of time it takes to get information disseminated via pamphlets is astonomical compared to how long it takes for something to spread from one person to their blog to another blog to millions of people. It's weird to ignore the techonological aspect of it and claim that blogging is no different from anyone else who has used the written word in the past.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:17 PM on January 26, 2005


It's weird to ignore the techonological aspect of it and claim that blogging is no different from anyone else who has used the written word in the past.
Yeah, it really is odd, because that's the reason blogs were so revolutionary. It's not just putting your thoughts down in written form, it's the new ability of literally anyone to disseminate their thoughts to millions of people with relatively negligible cost and effort (compared to, say, running a TV program or a newspaper).
posted by Sangermaine at 8:43 PM on January 26, 2005


In related news:

Blog Overkill - The danger of hyping a good thing into the ground.
posted by falconred at 8:45 PM on January 26, 2005


good things that have been hella hyped that still have survived quite nicely:

- porn
- p2p "sharing"
- tivo
- personal computing
- weed
- The Sopranos
- iPods
- viagra

somehow i think blogging will hang in there, although rock n roll might just be dead
posted by tsarfan at 8:53 PM on January 26, 2005


Nice follow-up on the stats, smackfu.
posted by rushmc at 9:12 PM on January 26, 2005


I am too lazy to look for stats but I don’t believe as many people see any blog, in a month, as one showing of 60 Minutes. If Marshall McLuhan was correct and the medium is indeed the message then the revolution inherent in blogs is not so much the dis-intermediation of dissemination of opinion, but rather the move from one to many delivery systems to one to one delivery, or from hot to cool media.

The cool media is reaching a much smaller audience than the hot. Hot media, beyond its ubiquity, also is very appealing to those who want to (Consciously or not) be told what to think. Cool media is very appealing to those who want to (Consciously or not) hear preaching to the converted. Cool one to one communication tends to foster belief that what is being said within the circle is truth and will attract others like sweetness attracts bees. Hot media tends to smooth out differences between the viewers and create solidarity among people who would not otherwise agree.

In the past 10 years in the US the right has seemed to co-opt the power of the still dominate Hot media while the left/libs have latched into the Cool Media while not grasping its essentially divisive nature and ignoring its limited reach.
posted by arse_hat at 9:16 PM on January 26, 2005


"If Marhsall MchLuhan was correct"

Big If.
posted by mai at 11:23 PM on January 26, 2005


oops. I meant to italicize what was in quotes.
posted by mai at 11:23 PM on January 26, 2005


"If Marhsall MchLuhan was correct"
Rhetorical question.
posted by arse_hat at 11:32 PM on January 26, 2005


arse_hat: but if you look at mainstream traditional mass media like newspapers and magazines aren't you also witnessing 'preaching to the converted' at work? People read newspapers because they confirm their life view, not because they want to disagree with the writers.

I think the difference with blogs is that the ease of access to a vast range of - crucially - global opinions means that you are much more likely to come across a differing viewpoint, and maybe even understand where it's coming from. You just don't get that kind of opportunity with anything else.
posted by Duug at 1:48 AM on January 27, 2005


What 23skidoo said. But I also have to add that Kevin is either quite dim, or he is simply being obtuse to vent his sanctimonious attitude toward blogs and bloggers.
posted by effwerd at 5:35 AM on January 27, 2005


Duug I agree that the mainstream media do preach to the converted but many people come to them not just to agree with them but to have tier vague ideas (I'm not sure how I feel about that what does CBS think?) strengthened. The media works hard to feed that.

In a one to one relationship people tend to argue with, or ignore things they disagree with. That's good but won't win any elections or change public policy. Blogs give you access to a vast range of opinions but very few people see them.

I do believe the US right has done a better job at creating consensus via the media (terrorism is the biggest issue in the election).
posted by arse_hat at 9:32 AM on January 27, 2005


Ah, but A_H, people don't go to mainstream media that is totally at odds with their views, that's my point. If they have a 'vague idea' about something, they'll go to their usual right or left or centrist wing media to have their prejudice confirmed. You won't find a liberal going to a right wing paper to have their views 'clarified'.

Blogs offer a genuinely innovative opportunity to find new ideas, especially if you are simply following an interesting linkin your fave blog. You are very likely to find yourself on a site with a totally different life view to your own, and therefore be faced with some new and sometimes challenging viewpoints.

For example I find Metafilter to be somewhat cynical and brutal much of the time, but I keep coming back because generally I find the quality of discussion going on here fascinating, no matter what the subject. :-)
posted by Duug at 12:07 PM on January 28, 2005


Trainwrecks are always fascinating.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:50 PM on January 28, 2005


Chill, blogophiles; you're not the first to do what you're doing

Well, I've been told. I guess I must just be "wack".

The author seems to miss the most obvious differences between blogs and pamphlets:

1. blogs are updated much more rapidly
2. blogs are interactive, in that readers can leave comments
3. (most importantly) hypertext (which Duug and arse_hat mentioned - though surely blogs are many to many broadcasting, not one to one).

The cost issue is probably important as well - it costs money to produce pamphlets or independent print newspapers, so it makes sense that those media might end up consolidating as the smaller operators get bought up by larger organisations. It doesn't cost anything to write a blog (over and above the cost of accessing the internet in the first place). So it seems logical that smaller blogs will be able to survive and thrive.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:07 PM on January 28, 2005


That, and it's a real bitch to pamphleteer the globe. Really only useful for local issues, not national and international.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:23 PM on January 28, 2005


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