Friday, March 05, 2004

Investigative Journalism At Its Best

Outside of hunting down that first coffee of the day, I have very few morning rituals, that I am aware of. One, however, is to sit with said first cup of coffee and peruse the headlines on cnn.com. First, I check out the major news of the moment, conveniently located to the upper-right where all major things should be located (my apologies to all my lower-left loving readers...). I'll click on anything that looks mildly interesting, which immediately excludes pieces on the War in Iraq, American politics, and Martha Stewart. I did read about her long-awaited conviction, but that's not news, it's entertainment. Anyway, after a quick read, I'll back my browser up to the main page and scan for any other tidbits that might tickle my fancy or float my boat, depending on the day. Always, though, I visit the Technology section last, because, as everyone knows, that's where the fun stuff is.

I'm not talking about the latest worm to bring Outlook to its knees (when as the last time you really got an important, must-read email from qzxvksty@openme.com?) or frontline news from the War on Piracy (you already know my stance on that)... No, I'm talking about the really good articles... Like ones about the Segway, that self-balancing, 2-wheeled contraption that they thought would be all the rage with downtown executives, airport commuters, and mail carriers. Well, it's pretty hard to think of something that can be stumped by a flight of stairs or a curb as a "breakthrough in modern technology"... Imagine, all the convenience of a wheelchair without the need to sit down! Wow! Still, it makes for an entertaining read. Or, how about Bill Gates' latest and greatest idea? Have you heard that he's proposing we start paying for every email we send? Sure, he touts it as a way to help stop spammers by making it an unprofitable venture, but let's face it, we all know where he'd like to see the money end up... I bet it rhymes with Nicrosoft... It's a laugh, and that's often just what I need to start my day.

But, just the other day, I read an article in the Tech section with the headline, "Study: Very few bloggers on Net". I was stunned. Even being a fairly recent arrival on the blogging scene myself, I have seen more blogs by a greater variety of people than I ever would have suspected. So, naturally, I had to read on.

(You can read the article here, for as long as the link lasts)

After doing a survey, they (and I'm talking about the all-knowing, all-seeing They behind all good studies, rumors, and legends) found that only about 2 to 7 percent of adult internet users in the United States keep a blog and, of those, only about 10 percent update them daily. And of the 11 percent or so of people who actually read blogs, most prefer to read the ones of strangers over those of family or friends. Shocking. Or is it? Let's break it down, shall we?

First of all, they apparently surveyed adults instead of teens. Although my years of running wild and sneaking into bars are far behind me, I can still admit that the vast majority of new technologies are more readily embraced by the younger generation. So, obviously, the survey was narrow in scope and poorly targeted. Even so, 2 to 7 percent is still a pretty big number when you think about it. What percentage of American adults do you think keep a diary? Publish articles? Write books? I doubt it's as high.

Secondly, it's not surprising at all that only 10 percent of active bloggers update their sites on a daily basis. Unless you are the kind of person who feels the need to tell the world about every sandwich you make, every show you watch, every phone call you take, it's pretty difficult to come up with things to write about everyday. Don't get me wrong... Those kind of blogs definitely have their place. I even read a few for fun, from time to time. They are like little snapshots of everyday life. But, for the rest of us, it's more about finding something to write about, and sometimes there just isn't anything worth the time at the keyboard.

As for people liking to read strangers' blogs... Duh! No kidding! It's because the lives or points of view of people we don't know are interesting and intriguing (well, I think mine are, anyway...). Family and friends are wonderful and irreplaceable, but we see them and speak to them all the time. To turn around and then read all their thoughts would be redundant at best and totally boring at worst. It's the very same reason we'd rather watch an episode of The Real World instead of home movies...

So, all in all, I'm not sure what the point of the whole article was... The statistics were empty, the expectations were unstated, and the conclusion was misleading. Come to think of it, the only interesting thing about the article is the fact that the article exists at all! Cool, in a weird sort of way, when you think about it...

Wait. Did I just write a blog about the lack of blogging going on? Oh crap... I hope this doesn't cause the universe to fold over on itself... Somebody call CNN...
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