Figuring out the state of the blogosphere

technoratilogo At one time, in the early days of social media when it was simply known as ‘blogging,’ the only service you gave any really serious attention to was Technorati.

If you wanted to know who was who in blogging, you checked Technorati. A blogger’s rank and/or authority? Technorati. Where a blog sits in the blogosphere’s pecking order? Technorati.

Founded by Dave Sifry in 2002, Technorati’s star dimmed significantly from the late-2000s onwards with many criticisms of its activities as it went through a number of changes (read the Wikipedia entry for a history lesson) and as the social media marketplace evolved.

Technorati’s credibility and its own authority suffered as a result. In fact, thinking about it, I can’t recall the last time I visited the Technorati website to look up the stats on anything there. I think it might have been sometime in early 2009.

That said, one of Technorati’s services that I’ve found useful over the years is its annual State of the Blogosphere reports that Sifry started in 2004 and which continue today.

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Technorati is starting the information-gathering process to report on the state of the blogosphere in 2010, with a survey. According to an email I received with a link to the survey -

[...] The goal of the study is to create a complete snapshot of the activities and interactions that make up the Blogosphere by asking you, the bloggers, to share some information about your habits. The survey includes questions like how, when and why you blog. Is this a side business, full time job or something you do for fun?

If you’re a blogger, why not take part? I’ve done that on the basis that contributing to make such a survey as useful as possible is surely a good idea.

One huge caveat, though – if you blog in any language other than English, Technorati won’t take any account of it in the blogs it tracks or includes in a survey like this.

According to an undated page on the Technorati website site entitled Handling of Non-English Blogs, the service “is focused on the English-language blogosphere and can no longer fully support non-English blogs.”

[...] We appreciate that many non-English bloggers have been long-time users of Technorati and regret that we can no longer provide full services to the vibrant multilingual blogosphere. Unfortunately, we simply do not have the ability or resources necessary to properly filter sites in languages other than English and to prevent non-English spam from polluting all of our data and services.

It’s hard to tell how many blogs are out there, whether English-language only or others. I hear numbers like 200 million. That’s not including blogs in China: there could be a similar amount. Or is the number 126 million according to BlogPulse as reported by Pingdom?

Whatever it is, it can be useful to get a sense of the blogosphere even if the picture will only be a view that’s far less than 360 degrees.

Technorati says it will publish its report on the state of the blogosphere for 2010 in November. Of especial interest if you want a view on the state of the English-language blogosphere in 2010, primarily in the US.

Related: Last week, eMarketer published a new research report on the continued rise of blogging, noting that  blogs continue to be important.

[...] eMarketer estimates that this year more than half of internet users will read blogs at least monthly. By 2014, readership will rise to more than 150 million Americans, or 60% of the internet population in the US. One reason for the rise in readership is that blogs have become an accepted part of the online media landscape.

“Trends in blog reading are expected to maintain an upward course as blogs continue to gain influence in the mainstream media,” said Paul Verna, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report “The Blogosphere: Colliding with Social and Mainstream Media.” “But there is a caveat to this forecast: Over time, blogs will continue to become indistinguishable from other media channels.”

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Blog writing, by contrast, is a more niche activity. Just under 12% of the online population will update a blog at least monthly this year, eMarketer estimates. By 2014 that proportion will inch upward to 13.3%.

The research firm says there are several factors driving the growth of blogging, including the ease of use of personal blogging platforms and the growing comfort level with blogs as a form of media.

[...] At the same time, social media like Twitter and Facebook are giving consumers an alternative, less-intensive way to communicate their thoughts to the world. Blogging is no longer a primary way for people to express themselves online.

eMarketer says its report also answers these key questions:

  • How many US internet users are reading and writing blogs?
  • What factors are driving shifts in the way people use blogs?
  • What role do media and corporate blogs play in the blogosphere?
  • How does social media usage affect blog reading and writing?

Plenty to think about.

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About Neville Hobson

Entrepreneurial business communicator with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Co-host of the weekly business podcast For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report. Also an occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.