mind-boggling take on a Pew Internet survey about the prevalence of weblogging, file-sharing, and other activities on the Internet. Pew conducted a phone poll of 2,500 American adults who use the Internet, finding that from 2 to 7 percent publish a weblog or online journal:
Even though only a small number of Internet users are writing blogs, a slightly larger number of Net users are visiting them. Eleven percent of Internet users report visiting blogs written by others. And of these blog readers, a third report posting to or commenting on the blog entries that they have read.
From other studies, around 138 million American adults use the Internet (two-thirds of the total adult population). So even at 2 percent, Pew's poll indicates that there are 2.7 million webloggers and diarists writing for an audience of around 14 million. How does AP receive this news?
Despite the potential of turning every Internet user into a publisher, relatively few have created Web journals called blogs and even fewer do so with regularly, a new study finds.
Headlines around the world for this story: "Study: Blogging still infrequent," "Very few bloggers on Net," "Small number choose to blog," "Web users slow to post journals," and my favorite, "Blog hype belies use." All because the number of webloggers is only 2.7 million, a number larger than the circulation of any newspaper in the U.S. Does anyone still wonder why amateurs are creating their own media?
Ah, the time-honored media practice of deceiving with statistics.... An excellent point. I think it'd be funny to tell the RIAA they have no reason to worry about illegal downloading because only 6.2% of Internet users do it on a regular basis :P
The sloppiness is inexcusable, even though the Sunday release time for this story coincided with the second-string Sunday shift. On a weekday, I like to think more editors would have caught the missing total-web-users figure and sent the writer back to the report (or at least the Pew press release!) for details. The sloppiness is obvious from the typo in the lead: "fewer do so with regularly" indeed... At least some versions corrected the misspelling of "regularly" to "regularity." (CNN, Editor & Publisher, etc.) But even they still didn't bother to insert a total to put that "relatively few" in perspective. Dumb!
The Pew study itself is worth a look.
Dumb, yes, and more. There is interest around blogs not because they are a dying trend. Far from it. Blogs represent a more democratic, efficient, flow of infromation. They are a real competitor to conventional news media.
Because transaction costs are almost nil on blogs, people can create fro free and cluster around any number of information sources that are relevant to them. Not interested in the mass market soap opera? - pick your own, pick a friend's.
We can always aggregate news content from international sources and read current events. And excuse me, George Will, Dan Rather and others, your opinions, screened through any number of self-interested baffles, may not measure up against the fresh ideas on a good blog. Misleading statistics and unaccountability are rife in conventional media. Blogs are no more and no less accountable, and are a refreshing departure from
news that is produced by what sometimes seem like archaic distribution methodogies.
Fons Tuinstra led me here. Great take.