Blogaholics?

May 28, 2004 | 18 comments
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There’s a fun article in yesterday’s New York Times about bloggers. It has some nice observations. Such as:

Blogging is a pastime for many, even a livelihood for a few. For some, it becomes an obsession. Such bloggers often feel compelled to write several times daily and feel anxious if they don’t keep up. As they spend more time hunkered over their computers, they neglect family, friends and jobs. They blog at home, at work and on the road.

Yikes! I hope I don’t meet that description, at least not too well. (He says as he takes a moment’s break from working to blog). And perhaps the best lines of the article:

Sometimes, too, the realization that no one is reading sets in. A few blogs have thousands of readers, but never have so many people written so much to be read by so few. By Jupiter Research’s estimate, only 4 percent of online users read blogs. Indeed, if a blog is likened to a conversation between a writer and readers, bloggers [] are having conversations largely with themselves.

It’s an illuminating article. I sometimes wonder about the place of blogs in my life and in the world. We get commenters who say that they “need to cut back” on T & S — are we (like) an addictive drug? Are Nate and I and the rest of the gang being “pushers” — “come on, everyone’s doing it . . . here’s a free sample.” If so, we’re probably the least financially sound purveyors of any addictive product (aren’t dealers supposed to make money from their endeavors?).

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18 Responses to Blogaholics?

  1. Ryan Bell on May 28, 2004 at 12:12 pm

    Yes, blogging and blog-reading are addictive. No idea why.

    I do think it’s interesting to think about blogging as a new medium. I remember reading an article maybe five years ago (Wired Magazine, maybe), that opined that at that point we had no idea what the Internet would produce. At the time we were using the Internet only as a way to facilitate the transmission of old media– mail, journalism, shopping, etc. The article predicted that in the next few years we’d see entirely new media (I use that as the plural for medium, not as a reference to that great liberal/conservative biased leviathan that is so fashionable to detest now) sprout from the fertile ground of the Internet. I see blogging as the first great fulfillment of that prophecy. It’s a great new medium made possible by the Internet, and impossible anywhere else. If nothing else, blogging is fulfilling all those promises of the online age, instead of just speeding up everything we were already able to do before.

  2. brayden on May 28, 2004 at 1:25 pm

    I’m an admitted blogging addict, but I don’t feel too badly about it. I think I could use my time in much less productive ways. I know fellow grad students who spend much of their time playing video games or sleeping in or going to bars or all of the above. I happen to spend an hour or so a day online visiting my favorite blogs. At least I’m fertilizing the soil of my mind.

    BTW – I love how Ryan uses the Mormon language of prophecy fulfilment to describe the blogging phenomenon. Only in the Bloggernacle!

  3. Fred on May 28, 2004 at 1:40 pm

    Hi, I’m Fred, and I’m a bloggernackaholic. [“Hi, Fred.”] But I’m recovering–I’ve been T&S free for two weeks now. Sure, I peek now and then, but I know that one nibble and I’ll fall. And it’s a long way down, friends. Pursuing a top ten spot on that comments chart just hounds you, day and night, gnaws at you like last night’s salsa. Take it one day at a time. We can do this together.

  4. Julie in Austin on May 28, 2004 at 1:46 pm

    One day I noticed that my name had cracked the top ten for comments, and I did not see the name of any of the other permabloggers on that list.

    What? I’m the newest permablogger and I’ve outcommented them *all* already?

    I was embarrassed. I decided to refrain from commenting as much as possible, only when Adam or Lyle or Frank had made me really crazy (grin).

    Then, days later, I realized that, for some reason, the front page doesn’t list permabloggers as comment leaders, (but the link does). Pretty much all the permabloggers have outcommented me.

    Whew.

    I haven’t shut up since.

    I am home all day with numerous little kids, mine and others, and this is my outlet, my break time, my brain candy. What, it would be better if I watched Oprah?

  5. Ryan Bell on May 28, 2004 at 1:53 pm

    Brayden, careful with your glibness. For those of us who have a testimony of blogs, you come so close to blaspheming. :)

  6. cooper on May 28, 2004 at 2:00 pm

    I enjoy the blog environment. It is a way of connecting with people on levels you probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to do in a day-to-day world. I usually avoid lawyers!

    Interestingly enough though, Kaimi states the article is illuminating. Well, yes. The NYT seems to be poking fun at or about blogging as a hobby. A bunch of people in bathrobes??? I think not. I was reading at A Small Victory and she quotes another blog:

    “Total number of internet users: 785,710,022. Four percent of that number: 31,428,400.

    Total number of NYT readers: Hard to estimate. Print circulation varies from about 1.16 million daily to 1.8 million on Sunday, website page count 1-2 million per day, total readership somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-5 million.

    Blogs as a whole are more widely read than the New York Times by a factor of seven plus.”

    So sufficeth to say, the NYT is trying to makes less of a phenomenon they are afraid of taking over the journalism industry. Bloggers report and discuss without worry of covering advertising budgets.

    I read a variety of blogs on a variety of subjects. Most don’t post daily so they aren’t as time consuming as say a T&S. Others are for entertainment value only. Others are a way of learning about something you’d never considered previously (Ventrepreneur and Tutissima Cassis). I like the extended world view.

  7. William Morris on May 28, 2004 at 2:09 pm

    It’s a great testimony to know that no matter where I travel in the Bloggernacle, I’ll always hear the same things being taught and feel the same spirit — even if I don’t understand that particular blog’s language. It’s great to always be able to find brothers and sisters in the gospel.

    But you know, I’m especially glad to be part of this blog. It has such a sweet spirit to it. I know everybody says this about their home blog, but I really think that this is the best blog in the entire Church, errr, I mean, Bloggernacle.

  8. Frank McIntyre on May 28, 2004 at 2:23 pm

    William,

    You are bringing up unwelcome memories of the four and a half hours testimony meeting that was at the end of my BYU freshman year.

  9. danithew on May 28, 2004 at 2:24 pm

    Sigh. I’m a blogaholic too. I read that article yesterday and saw how it stated that most blogs don’t have many readers… that bloggers are simply writing for their own pleasure much of the time. Too much truth I say.

  10. Frank McIntyre on May 28, 2004 at 2:31 pm

    I think the only way to know if one is addicted is to try to quit. So, since I have a binding work deadline this weekend anyway, I hereby will abstain from posting any more comments over the Memorial Day Weekend. Join me in a collective moment of solidarity as T&S goes quiet for four days— except for the out-of-the-blue comments on dead threads from new commenters that always pop up on weekends.

    This means that I won’t be able to answer Julie’s latest over at the Daughters of Zelophehad (blog name anyone?), but it is a small price to pay to show myself master of my keyboard.

    Join me!

    Bloggers of the world unite!
    All you have to lose are your chains!

  11. D. Fletcher on May 28, 2004 at 2:45 pm

    I think it’s human nature that we wish for responses to our communicated ideas. What happens to me on the boards and blogs is that after I’ve posted something (to me, truly unique and wonderful) I’m forever checking back to see if someone else has noted my uniqueness and wonderfulness, and commented on it. Then, of course, I’m required to comment back to them, and so forth.

    If there’s somebody you don’t really want posting on your site, simply don’t comment on their posts, and they will fall away quickly.

    It is, indeed, an addiction, but I suppose it has its merits and nourishment, as well. Better blogging than heroin, I always say.

  12. Kim Siever on May 28, 2004 at 3:04 pm

    My wife thinks I am addicted. Of course, I am not.

  13. Fred on May 28, 2004 at 3:16 pm

    People have been writing in diaries and journals intended to be read by no one (at least while the writer is alive) for centuries now, so the fact that many blogs have few readers doesn’t make the fact that people write them puzzling or irrational.

    Furthermore, newspaper writers can indulge the fantasy that subscribers actually read their individual pieces only because there is no independent counter attached to each story. Pity the naive reporter who actually thinks a fair chunk of 2 million subscribers actually reads their ten-paragraph page A6 story on the elections in Brazil. Put a “storymeter” on each story and I’ll bet there aren’t 20 people who read more than the headline on a good chunk of stories.

    Hollywood is only now discovering via “reality TV” that real people are actually more interesting than real actors (who are also real people, they just don’t act like it). Soon Big Media will discover that real people (who blog) are actually more interesting than reporters and what they write (reporters are also real people, of course, you just wouldn’t know it from reading some of their stories).

  14. Clark Goble on May 28, 2004 at 4:25 pm

    To second Fred, I think many write to get ideas worked out in their mind. Further writing can, of itself, be very therapeutic. I’m also not sure that low numbers of readers is necessarily a bad thing. For instance my blog gets 20 regular readers a day with an other 20 “new” readers. So I figure there are, at best about 40 regular readers who read it. But that doesn’t bother me. It is as much a place to bookmark interesting articles and get my thoughts organized as anything.

    Having said that though blogs like Instapundit, Belmont Club, and so forth really do provide a lot better analysis and information that you typically find on mainstream sites. (I try to get a variety of left wing, right wing, and moderate blogs) I’m sure they have thousands of readers a day. (Although Belmont Club, one of the best blogs out there, appears to be lower volume than that)

  15. JL on May 28, 2004 at 7:28 pm

    I don’t think we should stop or cut back just because the NYT made fun of bloggers. They probably are concerned about the phenomenon. A bunch of amateur writers are publishing on the web and have their own readership. It’s every journalist’s dream to be unedited and completely free to say what they want, who are bloggers to write about the world as if they know something?
    Interesting that this was written after the Dem National Convention announced they were issuing press passes to some bloggers. I smell a conspiracy to shame bloggers away from their territory.

    Since discovering the blogosphere, I’ve replaced my TV time with reading and writing online. I think my time is much better spent this way. Long live the Bloggernacle!

  16. Nate Oman on May 28, 2004 at 7:36 pm

    “who are bloggers to write about the world as if they know something?”

    One is tempted to ask the same question of journalists…

  17. William Morris on May 28, 2004 at 8:14 pm

    Now, now, Nate. We all know that journalists have a special mantle they are given after their first bylined article appears that endows them with powers of perception and special knowledge that us common citizens can only dream of.

    Oh yeah, and it always either the editor’s or copy editor’s fault if something is wrong in the article.

  18. Charles Sakai on May 31, 2004 at 3:33 am

    Just because a blogger is not on the payroll of a news organization, do not assume that he or she lacks any qualifications. I, for one, earned a bachelor’s degree in history back when my professors talked about “historical perspective” and weren’t hopelessly corrupted by notions of political correctness. Having a master’s degree in library science, a second bachelor’s in business, and a background in military intelligence should qualify me to be my own fact-checker, even if I cannot share the information derived from classified sources. I don’t even pretend to be “objective.” On top of that, as one of the world’s oldest bloggers, I have 56 years of life experiences to bring to my site.

    What keeps me going? My “Bloodthirsty Warmonger” and “Over the Edge” blogs and the “ColoradoPsycho.com” Web site have few regular visitors and never made any money, but at least some of my readers said the material was helpful and informative to them. The blogs in particular have been a way to meet and connect with wonderful people I would not otherwise have the pleasure of knowing.