statistical excursion OR lies, damned lies and statistics
I promised a good long while back that I would keep posting stuff related to my master's degree thesis. Here's a nugget that I delved into today:
Compare the "State of the Blogosphere" reports from David Sifry in March 2005 and February 2006. The 2005 report shows that Technorati is tracking 7.8 million blogs, and that that number doubles roughly every 5 months. 38.000 blogs are created every single day.
The 2006 report, on the other hand, shows 27.2 million blogs, with 75.000 new blogs being created every day. Blog growth is nearly exponential, despite the fact that many of these blogs are left inactive after only a short period of time, 13.7 million bloggers are still posting after three months.
A more useful figure is this: 50.000 new posts are created every single hour. That means that 526 billion individual posts are created every year.
According to the Book Industry Study Group, apprx. 2,22 billion books were sold in the US in 2003. If every single blog post is read only by one other person besides the person writing it, or even just half that number, that still means that the weblog has, over only a very short period of time, eaten up quite a sizeable percentage of what people read.
According to this report, Reading at Risk by the National Endowment for the Arts, the number of people reading literature in the United States is declining rapidly, decreasing from 56.9% in 1982 to 46.7% in 2002. The big problem with this report is that it (at first glance - I have not read it in its entirety yet) fails to take into account that readers of online material are also reading something. And most readers of most weblogs are reading something literary, every single day (because weblogs are specifically literary).
To put it more bluntly, more people are reading blogs regularly than novels.
Good thing or bad thing? Well, yes, probably. I think reading novels (or literature and fiction in general) is very important, but the fact that an enormous number of people are reading complex, ongoing, participatory texts with a complex literary form every day is a good thing. If only one could get people to read both. And newspapers.
(thanks, Jill, for the NEA link!)