Tuesday, January 04, 2005

2004: Year of the Blog?

The Pew Internet and American Life Project did a couple of studies in November that produced some interesting data on the state of 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.
It could certainly be said that 2004 was the "year of the blog." The most-searched word on Merriam-Webster.com was "blog." Bloggers received honorable mention for Time Magazine's Person of the Year; they also ran a feature called Ten Things We Learned About Blogs and named PowerLine its first-ever Blog of the Year.

Bloggers got invited to the two major national political conventions this past year, they offered all kinds of coverage (from both sides) leading up to the presidential election, and they've proven to be major figures in both news-gathering and donation-collecting during the recent South Asian tsunami disaster. Many of the bigwigs in the mainstream media (MSM)--meaning both broadcast and paper journalism--are suspicious of bloggers because of a perceived lack of editorial oversight, but the truth is, first, we're notorious for being self-editors (and can correct our mistakes much more easily than the print or broadcast media can do), and second, if a blogger makes a factual mistake, the readers will not hesitate to let him/her know. Some in the MSM have also railed about bloggers' posts being overwhelmingly composed of opinions, but most bloggers will counter that they never claim to be objective, while the MSM (which is supposed to be objective) tends to write many articles which are simply opinions masquerading as facts.

After all that, it's amazing to me that 62% of Internet users don't know what a blog is. Granted, the demographic still skews young; according to a Perseus Development Corporation study, over 90% of bloggers are between the ages of 13 and 29, with over half of them in the 13-19 group. So while, at the moment, that means that the majority of blogs are still Xanga sites where the topics of the day are how much the writer misses his/her ex-boyfriend/girlfriend and how much homework sucks (often typed in all lower-case letters with a liberal usage of IM-speak, OMG LOL), it also tells us that the next generation is already up to speed in the usage of an amazing tool that's done more than anything in recent years to advance the rapid dissemination of information and commentary. This is a good thing.

A little over three years ago, my buddy Zack sent me a link to one of his sites, posted at a place called Blogspot. That's a weird name, I thought to myself; what's a Blogspot? Oh, it says it here in the sidebar: it's...a spot for your blog. Oooook, that explains it. Little did I know that, as we start 2005, I would have been the author of one of these sites for nearly two years. It will be quite interesting to see what this year has in store for the blogosphere, and how much that 62% number decreases.

Other voices: Dave Ross, guest-hosting The Osgood Files yesterday, discusses the future of the blog. I don't necessarily agree with his conclusion, but it's an interesting perspective (and certainly one of the nicer treatments of the blogosphere by an MSM member recently).

A meeting of giants: Two of my favorite online humorists "met up" yesterday when Lileks posted comments on Dave Barry's Blog (scroll down about halfway through the comments to find Lileks). The subject was irate letters from obviously humor-impaired readers, and it was great to read these two in the same place. I was trying to think of a good analogy to the unexpected meeting of two superheroes who never worked together before, but nothing came to mind (too much cross-pollination between comic books, I guess). Maybe the jazz musician equivalent would be a Michael Brecker/Sonny Rollins summit, but for all I know, that could've happened already at a major festival.

What's in a name? Too much, in this case: For those who thought "The Ballpark in Arlington" was too much of a mouthful, check this out--the baseball team that plays near Disneyland will now be known as The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Wait a minute; "los angeles" already means "the angels." So now they're "The Angels Angels?" That's as redundant as "ATM machine" or "PIN number."

Oh, and naturally, Anaheim is not pleased and is pursuing legal action (I think we all saw that coming).


Eric Grubbs said...
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Eric Grubbs said...

Couldn't they just call them the LAAA's? "There She Goes" by the La's could be their theme song.