By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Counting blogs: One, two, many

Four years ago, Jay Rosen dropped in on a media-criticism class I was teaching at Northeastern University for a discussion about blogging.

One point he made I thought was particularly salient: the 97 bazillion blogs Technorati claims to be tracking are often used by critics as a way to discredit blogging. After all, how could anything so common be of much value?

Still, it’s hard to quantify the number of blogs that matter to news folks — that is, blogs doing some type of journalism, even if it’s just commenting intelligently on the news. When asked, I generally respond that it’s certainly in the hundreds, or even the thousands, but definitely not the millions.

So I was interested to see more useful Technorati numbers appear in a New York Times story today about bloggers who quit because they quickly learn that it’s hard work, or that it’s no way to make money, or that they decide revealing personal details about themselves isn’t such a good idea. (Not that that has anything inherently to do with blogging.) To wit:

  • Of the 133 million blogs that Technorati was following in 2008, only 7.4 million had been updated in the past four months.
  • The vast majority of traffic is generated by 50,000 to 100,000 blogs.

Those numbers make far more sense, and show that blogging is something that a small subset of dedicated amateurs (and a few professionals) take seriously. As Rosen suggested, the Golden Arches approach is a way of marginalizing rather than elucidating.

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  1. Potterchik

    Planning to make money blogging is like planning to win the lottery. You can buy a ticket, you might even win a few bucks here and there, but you'd better have a back up plan. Sure, somebody's gotta win; but it's probably not gonna be you.

  2. PoliticaObscura

    Lot of folks used blogs for daily updates on their lives, etc. That role has been taken over by Facebook postings and the like. The desire to blog hasn't changed, just the platform of the "personal blogger".

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