At the forefront of blogging research

20Jul06

The Pew Internet Project has a new report on blogging. Some of the more interesting conclusions:

* Most bloggers blog for themselves, not an audience. I’m much in that category. While I welcome an audience, even if I was sure that nobody could read this stuff, I’d still write it. It’s more of an intellectual exercise.

* 55% blog under a pseudonym, 46% under their own name. Well, does just a first name count as a pseudonym? I try not to identify myself fully on my blog, for fear that what I write here might interfere with future academic and employment situations.

* The most commonly cited reason for blogging was “to express yourself creatively,” and not “to document personal experiences.” Because I could write in a diary if I wanted to document personal experiences. Creative expression requires public performance, and that’s what blogs provide — an avenue for public expression (even if that public is decidedly small)

None of this is really surprising — I know why I like blogs (in fact, I like them so much, I have several, each serving a different purpose). But I wonder why I have taken to blogging so strongly, while most of my friends either don’t get it or don’t think that it’s worth the effort.

The study shows that people blog for a variety of reasons — expression, sharing experiences, to instruct, and more. It also shows that people who blog are also avid blog readers, and I think that this sheds some light on my question. For me, blogging is a very cool form of communication, in which I can broadcast to a large number of people, and simultaneously receive and react to the broadcasts of others. But to be comfortable with this kind of distanced communication, you need to have embraced the web as a primary interface (as opposed to face-to-face communication and telephones, which almost everyone considers primary). To many, I suspect, the web, even email and chat, take a second seat. But to those who have pushed the web’s chair up one row, blogging seems like a natural way to send and receive information.

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