Monday, February 13, 2006

More Worries on Blog Readership

Another poll has been released today, this time from Gallup, hinting about a slow-down in the blog phenomenon. From the study: in five Web users read Web-logs, or "blogs," either frequently or occasionally. Though this translates into 40 million readers, it relegates blogs to the bottom pack of Internet activities...
There are a two well-established thoughts that the blogging community tend to rely upon when these sorts of numbers come out: People don't necessarily know they are reading a blog; the interface for blog-reading is miserable.

The first one is absolutely accurate. We continue to see the growth of blogs, despite an apparent awareness of their presence. Consider the graph above. The blog Engadget got a nice, sustained boost right around December. OK, they pale in comparison to CNet, but I imagine Engadget's operating and traffic costs are also a fraction.

So, clearly people are reading blogs, but I have the sense that they are coming to blogs not because of their format, but because of their content. That is, its less interesting that Engadget is published multiple times a day via a socialized technology, and more interesting that they have a good review of some MP3 player.

Asking the question "do you read blogs" may be totally irrelevant. The answer most likely is "no" (as we see in the data). But to see that people connect with and consume the content found in blogs is important and probably not catchable with a survey.

As for the interface. That's a whole 'nother story. I will admit that I have yet to find a good way to read blogs and RSS feeds.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't the question 'do you read blogs' especially irrelevant if the blogs are professionally produced? What exactly *is* the difference between Engadget and Cnet -- apart from the fact Engadget's 'articles' are shorter and more likely to contain grammatical errors? Isn't it really just a different content management system, and nothing more?

The reality is, all the most consistently popular and influential blogs are professional content -- either produced by writers paid specifically to write for the blog (ie Gawker, Weblogs Inc), or writers whose full-time employers get so much value from the blogging and therefore give them so much leeway that it's as good as part of their job description (ie Scoble). We're well past the time when 'blogs' were a byword for consumer generated content.

- Nate

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