Well, here it is, May 19, 2010… blog #1. While I’m not a newbie to cyberspace, I guess you could say I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to contributing content to the realm commonly called the blogosphere. I don’t remember exactly when I first heard that term but I do vaguely recall being amazed that blogging had grown to a level that a subsection of the internet had been named specifically for it.
About 10 years ago (2000-ish), my mother asked me what a blog was and if I knew where the term came from. At the time, my job involved computers so she thought of me as someone “in the know” when it came to technology and the internet. I told her I had only recently heard of the term and wasn’t completely familiar with it but my limited understanding was that it was essentially an online dairy or journal. I explained that some people were writing about their experiences – both personal and business – and posting that information online for the world to see (My thought at the time was “Who in their right mind would want to do THAT?!”). As for the term blog, I told her I did not know the origin but would research it and get back to her.
Today, in hindsight, I’m a little embarrassed I didn’t know where the term came from. Knowing it involved online journaling, it would not have been a big stretch to suspect it was a contraction for the words web and log. The terms World Wide Web and Web were fairly commonplace by that time, having originated in the early 1990’s. Today, blogs seem to be taking over the internet. As for the impromptu definition I provided my mom a decade ago, at least I was partially correct.
Definitions: Blog, Blogger, Blogosphere
I recently asked one of my sisters if she had ever heard the term blogosphere. Although she is a fairly frequent surfer of the internet, she had not. With that in mind, I thought it might be prudent to provide some generally accepted definitions of key terms used in this post.
A blog is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.
Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability of readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (Art blog), photographs (photoblog), videos (Video blogging), music (MP3 blog), and audio (podcasting). Microblogging is another type of blogging, featuring very short posts. (source: Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog), available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License)
The blogosphere is made up of all blogs and their interconnections. The term implies that blogs exist together as a connected community (or as a collection of connected communities) or as a social network in which everyday authors can publish their opinions. (source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blogosphere), available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License)
Technorati defines the Active Blogosphere as: The ecosystem of interconnected communities of bloggers and readers at the convergence of journalism and conversation. (source: http://technorati.com/blogging/article/state-of-the-blogosphere-introduction/ available under Creative Commons Public License)
A blogger then, of course, is one who writes and posts blogs on the internet. A decade ago, my question was: Why?! Today, I have a fairly good understanding of the various reasons people spend their time blogging and this blog is a good opportunity to share them.
Why Does a Blogger Blog?
What I once thought was a fad for hobbyists and journalist wannabe’s, blogs have turned out to be an essential tool for the success of many websites. To begin with, a well maintained blog can help a website rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs). This is because search engine algorithms (used to index and rank websites) give more weight to sites with regularly updated, relevant content. Higher rankings on SERPs can increase visitor traffic to a website, and increased visitor traffic can result in larger profits for an online business or larger exposure and influence for a nonprofit entity.
In Technorati’s “State of the Blogosphere 2009”, 2,900 bloggers were surveyed on various issues related to blogging. Here is an excerpt regarding reasons people blog…
Self-expression and sharing expertise continue to be the primary motivations for bloggers, and 70% of all respondents say that personal satisfaction is a way they measure the success of their blog. Among Pros, however, the leading metric of success is the number of unique visitors. (source: http://technorati.com/blogging/article/day-2-the-what-and-why2/#ixzz0oE9sBNyH, available under Creative Commons Public License)
Professional bloggers, those who do it for a living, usually write about and promote their business, of course – but not always. As long as a topic has relevance to the blogger’s business or industry, directly or indirectly, it’s fair game. The objective is to write interesting, compelling articles that generate traffic to the company website and, ideally, bring readers back.
Independent bloggers usually write about something they are passionate about or interested in. Some do it because they have something to say, while others do it as a means to make money through ad revenue and/or affiliate marketing.
The process of blogging helps spread the word quickly and in many cases expands the writer’s knowledge of the subject during the research process and through comments from site visitors.
Blogs offer a vehicle for reporting news and information that is not constrained like traditional media such as newspapers, TV and radio. Self funded authors can use whatever language they like with no concern about sponsors or producers or being politically correct.
Finally, blogs can be updated 24 hours a day, seven days a week and therefore can be timelier with news and commentary than traditional media. This has great appeal for people that use a smartphone or other mobile device for obtaining news and information.
How Big is the Blogosphere?
Recently, I did some research to identify the total number of blogs on the internet. I wanted to quantify how popular this phenomenon called blogging has become. My goal was to cite credible sources, ideally as of 2009 or 2010. It quickly became clear to me that specific, current, reliable numbers are a real challenge to come by. The following figures are primarily from Technorati’s 2008 State of the Blogosphere. Interestingly, while the more current 2009 report offers an in-depth analysis of blogger demographics as well as some great interviews, it does not provide the same type of quantitative detail included in their prior year reports. Hence, the stats are not as current as I would have liked.
- 133 million blogs were indexed by Technorati between 2002 and 2008.
- Number of blog posts in a 24 period: 900,000.
- Blogs have representation in top-10 website lists across all key categories and have become integral to the media ecosystem.
- 95% of the top US newspapers had reporter blogs by 2008.
- Technorati tracked blogs in 81 languages in June 2008, and bloggers responded to their survey from 66 countries across six continents.
(source: http://technorati.com/blogging/article/day-2-the-what-and-why2/#ixzz0oE9sBNyH, available under Creative Commons Public License)
Also from Technorati’s 2008 State of the Blogosphere analysis:
- 77.7 million unique blog visitors in the US (comScore Media Metrix, August 2008)
- Total internet audience: 188.9 million (comScore Media Metrix, August 2008)
- 77% of active US internet users read blogs (Universal McCann, March 2008)
The Growth Factor
Some analysts estimate that the number of blogs today (mid 2010) could easily have doubled in the year and a half since the last Technorati count was released in August 2008. That would add more than 130 million new blogs, putting the current size of blogosphere in the 260 million blog range. For perspective, here are the growth numbers prior to 2008:
- 2004 (July): 3 million blogs tracked by Technorati.
- 2005 (Oct): 19.6 million; number of blogs tracked by Technorati doubled every 5 months since they started tracking in November 2002.
- 2006 (Oct): 57 million blogs; on average, approximately 100,000 new blogs were created each day.
- 2007 (April): 70 million blogs; approximately 120,000 new blogs created worldwide daily; that’s about 1.4 blogs created every second.
- 2008 (Aug): 133 million blogs tracked.
- 2009 (Oct): total worldwide blog count is conspicuously missing from Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere report.
(source: http://technorati.com/state-of-the-blogosphere/, available under Creative Commons Public License)
Active Blogosphere vs. the Dead Zone
By definition, one of the characteristics of a blog is that it is updated on a regular basis. So, to be accurate regarding the size of the blogosphere, dead or dormant blogs (those that have not been updated in the last 90 days) need to be filtered out. According to Dorion Carroll, Technorati’s vice president of engineering, that would bring the size of the active blogosphere (as of October 2008) down from 133 million to “probably between 15 and 30 million blogs”. (source: ZDNet video interview, October 28, 2008, http://www.zdnet.com/videos/cio/technorati-vp-of-engineering-dorion-carroll/334998)
If the blogosphere is really doubling in size every year, a reasonable estimate of the current size of the “active” blogosphere would be between 30 and 60 million blogs. To put that in perspective, I considered providing you with the “total number of websites worldwide” but guestimates of that number range from 100 million to well over 200 million. Rather than go down that road, I think it’s safe to simply say… blogs are here to stay.