I’ve been writing about or working within the Internet since 1995 so I’ve got a pretty good handle on the key trends. That said, it’s amazing how much new information and insight you get from listening to Jeff Cole, the director of the Center for the Digital Future, which has been conducting a comprehensive study on Internet usage since 1999. I’ll write a more complete post tomorrow but one thing that resonated with me was Cole’s take on blogs.
“Almost no one reads blogs,” he said today during a lunch-time presentation in Toronto put together by eBay Canada. “The audience for most blogs is tiny….We think most bloggers have achieved the anonymity they rich deserve.”
For someone working for a blog networking company and passionate about blogging, that’s troubling to hear. But Cole is right – most of the 55 million blogs (and counting) out there don’t get many readers but that’s okay because people write blogs for all kinds of reasons beyond being popular. Still, it does make you realize the enthusiasm for blogging overshadows blog readership – at least for now. My take is bloggers are ahead of the curve as many people seeking information on the Web are still dabbling with the blogosphere. However, that will start to change as more people get comfortable about blogs, spend more time reading blogs, and start to realize there is a rich world of insight, comment and information available at no cost.
I think Cole is making a valid point about an industry/community that tends to filter or brush aside criticism or suggestions it’s not as important or popular. As much as the blogosphere likes to think about itself as an emerging medium, it has a long way to go before it enters the mainstream. Hopefully, future studies will start to suggest blog readership is gaining momentum, which will good news for bloggers, and selfish-speaking, blog networks.
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