The Span and Influence of the Blogosphere in 2010

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The Technorati blog has been publishing a lot of data lately on the state of the blogosphere. Some of the data defy projection (if the number of blogs continues to double every five months, for example, in five years there will be 60 billion blogs) but others paint an interesting picture of the blogosphere’s span and influence. In some cases I’ve had to make some assumptions, and some of the data is soft (and projections must always be taken with a grain of salt) but I think the following projections are accurate and plausible.

  1. By 2010, the blogosphere will be read in aggregate as much as the American press. Some earlier research suggested that aggregate readership of all blogs is about 1 million hours per day. Technorati data say posting volume is roughly doubling each year, and that reader attention is growing modestly (20%) slower than that, and you get the blue curve above. Other data from Readership Institute and Encarta suggest readers of the 1500 US dailies currently spend an aggregate of 25 million hours per day reading them, but this number is in a steady long term decline (red line above). The lines cross in 2010.
  2. We will have to produce 30 times as much as the American press, to get the same readership. From a straw poll of three dailies, it appears to me that the average US daily includes about 70 articles and columns. Computerworld and other sources say the average newspaper article is 700 words. Multiply that 50,000 words/newspaper/day x 1500 dailies and you get 75 million words/day. Divided into 25 million hours of reading time that’s 20 minutes reader attention per word. Let’s say the average blog post is 150 words (my average is 1200 words, but I’m far from typical, and some posts are nothing more than a sentence with a link). Technorati reports an average (excluding spam) of 700,000 posts/day on the blogosphere. That would make 100 million words/day. Divide that into the 1 million hours of reading time, that’s 36 seconds reader attention per word. That’s 3% of what the average print word gets. It also means that to catch up to the dailies in aggregate reader attention in 2010 we’ll be writing 30 times as many words as they are — that’s about three billion words per day. 
  3. Even if current growth continues, by 2010 less than 1% of the world will be active bloggers. By ‘active’ I mean bloggers who usually post at least once per week. If you apply a power curve, about three quarters of the five million blog posts per week are posted by somewhere between one and two million ‘active’ bloggers. Let’s be generous and say two million. If this continues to double annually until 2010 that will produce 60 million active bloggers. That’s less than 1% of the world’s population. Compare that to many other global activities and blogging will still be a fairly uncommon practice. Yoga, for example, has several times this number of practitioners.

That’s us bloggers: increasingly influential, hard-working and still rare. Like progressive economists, and members of intentional communities.

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One Response to The Span and Influence of the Blogosphere in 2010

  1. Thanks for putting all of this in perspective, Dave.Some days it feels like everybody’s a blogger now, but that impression probably comes from reading too many blogs. We’re still a rare species (I write for Treehugger.com) among “regular” people and will continue to be. I figure that as long as the quality blogs rise to the top, we’ll be allright.

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