September 17, 2003

3 Million Strong and How Many Readers?

Laura at Apt 11D (permalink bloggered; scroll to Wednesday, September 17) has a few questions about blogging. I'm particularly intrigued by questions 1 and 5:

1. Why do bloggers love to write obituaries?

5. There are 3 million blogs. Do blog writers outnumber blog readers?

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at September 17, 2003 09:41 AM

Given that blog writers are usually also blog readers...

However. My take on it is -- people are writing, yay! I don't care for whom they're writing (if it's just themselves and their cats, terrif), I don't care that they aren't writing Shakespeare, I don't care!

People are WRITING. People are MAKING WORDS instead of merely consuming them -- if they even do that much. Rejoice! This is a good thing!

Posted by: Dorothea Salo at September 17, 2003 09:54 AM

Apart from being much larger, the blogosphere is similar to the poetry world: there are far more producers than consumers of content. There are far more poets than there are readers of poetry. That's why virtually all poetry publishers are either non-profits, publish only through contests with reading fees (my case), or some combination of the two. There are far more people willing to pay for the chance to have their poetry published than there are willing to buy a book of someone else's poetry. It probably speaks to the wonderful expressiveness (if you view it as a positive) or egotism (if you view it as a negative) of people. I say, let 'em write. It's a good thing. Even though selling poetry books is tough.

Posted by: Kevin Walzer at September 17, 2003 10:14 AM

I am a blog reader who is not (yet) a blog keeper. Back in the 1970s I was the publisher/editor/complete staff of a little literary magazine (also grant writer--Thank you, thank you NEA) and before that I was known to commit poetry.
I see the blog-verse as different from the "everybody writes poetry, nobody reads it" situation for two reasons: good blogs link to other writing, therefore escaping the solipsism of the (apocryphal?)"poet" who would read no poetry lest he be influenced, AND blogging invites the conversation/writing of others, which isn't the case with the current state of "popular" poetry writing.
(Though I hasten to add, since I live with a poet who is constantly reading other poets, that I would bet that most widely published poets are reading as much poetry as they write.)

Posted by: sappho at September 17, 2003 02:11 PM

The Blog Census is considerably below 3 million, and judging from the number of commenters who insert email addresses rather than URLs in the namelinks, I'd say readers outnumber writers. There's a great Clay Shirky Essay about the relationship between different kinds of bloggers.

Posted by: Gabriel at September 18, 2003 02:40 PM

Do you ever follow the links for "Recently updated blogs" on Blogger? One third seems to be high-school students (perhaps adults use Moveable Type), one third are brand new ("just a test. cool, i'm on the internet!"), and the last third are beautifully designed and illustrated sites from Brazil with almost no content (no clue on that category).

There may be three million blogs, but I would bet there are far fewer bloggers. My site, A Frolic of My Own, was started more or less by accident. While trying to figure out what a blog was, I notice that many sites were hosted by Blogspot. I typed in the domain and was greeted with an offer to start a free blog. Who could resist? Certainly my first posts were squarely in the "Look Mom, I'm on the net" category.

Even if people don't keep up their blogs, it still probably makes them more attentive and engaged readers.

Posted by: A Frolic of My Own at September 18, 2003 03:59 PM