Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The nature of blogging, bloggers

Publishing 2.0 has an interesting thought:
If there are more people blogging, but no increase in the number of people reading blogs, maybe blog readership has actually been siphoned off by blog writing. I know that the time I spend writing this post is time I might otherwise spend reading other blogs.
Which makes me wonder — how much of blog writing and blog reading is a completely closed system, both self-referential and self-absorbed?
Completely closed? No, but it is still a pretty tight circle of those "in the know" about blogs. I know plenty of people who wouldn't know what the hell a blog is if it weren't for the fact that I'm a blogger and the topic has come up in our conversations. Blogs also tend to be a bit "niche" in nature. For example, there are a lot of blogs that focus primarily on politics. A lot of Americans just aren't interested enough in politics to go searching out those blogs. It's the same thing with the blog diaries that are popular with kids and college students. The media will almost always have an advantage there, because they typically provide a larger diversity of topics for their readers/viewers/listeners than blogs do. There is also the sheer number of blogs that acts as an impediment to bringing in new readers in mass quantities. If the average Joe wants news, they know the newspapers, TV and radio stations available to them. Even large blogs like Instapundit aren't household names, though, and there is no entry portal for people to go to in order to jump into blog reading. The average guy on the street doesn't usually know where to start when it comes to reading blogs for news or op/ed.

I've always held the opinion that blogs have an outsized influence for their readership numbers, and appropriately so. The best ones develop an audience because they are entertaining and intelligent. They draw readers from those who deal in the same marketplace of ideas as they do, which means blogs influence the influencers of public opinion. Will blogs one day reach mass audiences? Yes, and some are already approaching that, but I suspect the culture and the structure of blogging will change before that becomes common. Some will applaud when that day comes, but even then there will be something to be said for having a highly targeted, high quality readership, even if total unique visitors for a site are lower.

No comments: