Recently answered a query from a journalist about blogging and thought that my response would make good fodder for a discussion here too. In a nutshell, she was curious about blogging and seemed not to really get the concept. Her questions were rudimentary, but then again, sometimes it’s invaluable to ask those basic questions anyway.
Her first question was one of those classic ones: How many bloggers are there?
My answer: “The key to remember with this story is that a blog is just a tool. There’s nothing special about it, no requirements for any particular features or capabilities. Common usage has it be diary-like and allow comments from readers to be included, but they’re not required and there’s no group that determines if something is or isn’t a blog. This means that it’s basically impossible to estimate how many blogs or bloggers are out there, unfortunately.”
“However, if we constrain ourselves to sites that have constantly-added narrative content and do allow user feedback, we’re still in the millions of blogs, people ranging from pre-teens to senior citizens, with the bulk of bloggers in their late teens to 50 or thereabouts.”
Next question: Why do people blog?
“In terms of why people blog, well, my belief is that it’s to have a voice, however small. To think that just like the people who write those fancy opinion columns for The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, you too can share your thoughts, vent, and complain to the public at large. Having said that, there are lots of really smart bloggers who have interesting perspectives on the news, politics, sports, business, etc., people who wouldn’t otherwise be heard in mainstream media.
“That’s why I read blogs, about 150/daily, and that’s why I write my own blogs too. Of my own blogs, perhaps the most interesting to your readers are both The Intuitive Life Business Blog, which is where I talk about the business of the Internet and how blogging can be an extraordinarily effective marketing channel, and APparenting.com, where my wife and I share real life stories of parenting in this modern world.
“Sometimes I’ll write something and never get a response from anyone, but other times I’ll write about something like an ethical challenge for a Fortune 500 business or the lame excuses men use for cheating on their spouse, and it’ll garner dozens or even hundreds of comments from other people, readers who share perspectives I never knew.
Final question: What about privacy? Isn’t that an important issue?
“You’re right to talk about privacy/identity and blogging too. That’s a serious issue and if you visit our parenting blog, for example, you’ll notice that we refer to our children as “A-”, “G-”, etc., and we never publish any pictures of them online. That’s for their [our] privacy, and yes, I am a bit leery about the oddballs and weirdoes out there…”
How about you, dear blog reader (and, probably, blogger in your own right). How would you answer these three key questions:
- How many bloggers are there?
- Why do people blog?
- What about privacy while blogging?