Tuesday, 22 February 2005

Weblogs May Be Over Rated....

Well, those few of you who regularly read this blog (if anyone reads this blog) may have noticed that it has a new look. Last night I decided that my sidebar had become too crowded and hence I needed another sidebar. That was easier said than done. After trying to create another sidebar on my own, I simply went to Eris Standards and Design where they have a handy, little template generator. This particular template is the three column version of Vaguely Victorian. I've tweaked it a bit, as might be expected. And I think I liked my old template's colours better (it was a cross between Rounders 4 and Herbert with the colour scheme of Split Pea), but this does give me the two sidebars I need.

In other news, according to my counter I am at 996 hits. Before tonight is over I might well have 1000 hits! Okay, I know hit counters aren't accurate, but it is nice to know that at least someone is reading this blog.

Speaking of blogs, there has been a lot in the press about their growing power of late. Admittedly, blogs are pretty young to be getting so much attention. Jorn Barger coined the term weblog in December 1997. It was Peter Merholz who shorted weblog to blog in the spring of 1999, the same year that Blogger was launched. Regardless of their youth, the media of late apparently sees them as a force with which to be reckoned.

In 2002 U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was driven from office after bloggers found his remarks at Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party to be racist. More recently, CNN's Eaton Jordan was forced to resign after he made comments that suggested the United States military was targeting journailsts. The mainstream media overlooked his remarks; bloggers did not and went on the attack. On the surface it would appear that blogs are growing in influence. As for myself, I am not so sure of that.

In a newspaper article I recently read that approxmiately 8 million Americans write some sort of blog or another. Now that is an impressive number, except when one also reads that only 1/3 of all Americans even understand what a blog is! The numbers become even less impressive when one considers a study by Perseus Development Corporation, which studies internet trends. They found that 66% of all blogs had not been updated in over two months and many had apparently been abandoned. About a quarter of them boasted only a single post, made on the day the blog was created. Of course, it can be argued that while most blogs last but briefly, those that remain are growing in influence. That idea may well be dismissed by a study conducted by Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Internet Survey in 2003. They estimated that only 4% of all Americans look to weblogs for information and opinions. From this it seems to me, then, that blogs are not terribly significant for the average American.

Why, then, is the media focusing on this attention on blogs? I have to admit that I have no idea why. I suspect part of it may be a fascination with a new form of communication on the part of those who make their living from older forms of communication. Another part may simply be the novelty of the blog. For the media weblogs may simply be a fad. Quite simply, blogs could be the CB radios of the Naughts. Regardless, it does seem to me that the media may be overestimating the influence of blogs at the moment.

Notice that I did say "..at the moment." I do think blogs could well grow in influence. Speaking as a blogger myself, they are a marvelous means of conveying information. I can see how in times to come blogs could have some influence on society. In fact, I think they could well become a new medium, alongside magazines, telvision, and radio in which people can receive news and other information. I have no idea when that day will come, although I suspect that it is some distance away. At any rate, while most blogs may only last a day, I imagine there will inevitably be other blogs that will always be around. With any luck, this one will be one of them.

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