May 17, 2005
Blogs not yet mainstream
An online response to today's column, "Bush already irrelevant", about Democrats needing to focus on winning control of one or both houses of Congress, noted that I must not be reading the blogs because most comments in the blogosphere are saying just that.
I admit that I do not read blogs as much as I should. But then neither do many other people. A new Pew Internet Project study shows that blog readership hasn't yet reached the point where the threads of conversations blogs start can be considered the talk of the land.
Briefly put, if only a few are listening, then a message is not getting out and if the message is not getting out, not much will happen. As the Pew study noted, 27 percent of Internet users read blogs. That does translate to 32 million people, but that does not mean 32 million politically involved people. During the 2004 election campaign, only 9 percent of Internet users said they read political blogs "frequently" or "sometimes." That means only about 11 million political blog readers. Contrast that with the Editor and Publisher estimate of 44 million people reading newspapers online. (Again that does not mean 44 million politically involved people.)
All this really means is that blogging has not yet become a mainstream method of getting or giving information. But among those who regularly read blogs, it might seem as though the topic under discussion is being discussed all over the place. That points to another problem with the Internet it internalizes communication among a select few.
Someday, blogging might become a forum that will drive the national debate. But with 62 percent of the 120 million Americans online not knowing what a blog is, information must still be disseminated the old-fashioned way.