Friday, September 02, 2005

Blog menace: mainstream media guy strikes back

Steve Maich, in an article in Maclean, takes a look at the blogging phenomenon. To sum his argument up, the blog hype is highly overrated and its threat to mainstream media is overrated. As a business columinst he does so with the help of some statistical data:
For one thing, there are wild discrepancies in the estimates of how many blogs are actually out there. Some figure the number is as high as 30 million worldwide. But once you strip away pseudo-blogs that are really ads or scam traps, and subtract dormant sites, the numbers plunge precipitously. A couple of sites dedicated to tracking blog traffic estimate only about two to four million blogs are actively maintained.

Still, that's a lot of blogs and lots of readers. Or maybe not.

It was late last year that the Pew Internet & American Life Project reported two seemingly incongruous facts: that 27 per cent of Internet users regularly read blogs, but that 62 per cent of the online population still didn't know what a blog is. In fact, 40 per cent of those who said they read blogs then said they didn't really know what a blog was.

Do you read blogs regularly? Oh, yes.

Do you know what a blog is? Um . . . no.

This little comedy routine played itself out 143 times in a survey of just over 1,300 people. But that didn't stop the believers from trumpeting that blog readership soared 58 per cent in 2004. What they often fail to point out is that the overwhelming majority of blogs get almost no traffic. According to data from SiteMeter and other tracking services, more than 99 per cent get fewer than 10 hits a day. [emphasis mine]Even the ones that do attract readers don't hold their attention very well. The same reports suggest that the average blog reader stays on a site for just 90 seconds.

Well, the 99% figure might as well be true. But then if you believe the lowest overall estimate it still leaves us with approximately 200,000 blogs that get more than hits a day. And if just one per cent of those get, say, 1000 hits a day, it's a formidable number.
For example, this blog certainly belongs to the former category (and it was somewhat soothing to find out that I'm just like 99% of other guys, blogging in vain :-) - but again, I don't really care. However, if you, the reader, happen to care about my writing, let me know :-)))
Yes, many, if not blogs are full of crap, as Maich has pointed out. But the difference is that unlike the mainstream media business anyone has a shot at becoming a media star whereas becoming a conventional journalist is not that easy.
One discernible danger though is that with the proliferation of blogs it'd be hard to find good ones. But Google rules and so it's totally impossible.


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