Why do people blog, and how many of us are there?

Recently answered a query from a journalist about blogging and thought that my response would make good fodder for a discussion here too. In a nutshell, she was curious about blogging and seemed not to really get the concept. Her questions were rudimentary, but then again, sometimes it’s invaluable to ask those basic questions anyway.
Her first question was one of those classic ones: How many bloggers are there?
My answer: “The key to remember with this story is that a blog is just a tool. There’s nothing special about it, no requirements for any particular features or capabilities. Common usage has it be diary-like and allow comments from readers to be included, but they’re not required and there’s no group that determines if something is or isn’t a blog. This means that it’s basically impossible to estimate how many blogs or bloggers are out there, unfortunately.”

“However, if we constrain ourselves to sites that have constantly-added narrative content and do allow user feedback, we’re still in the millions of blogs, people ranging from pre-teens to senior citizens, with the bulk of bloggers in their late teens to 50 or thereabouts.”
Next question: Why do people blog?
“In terms of why people blog, well, my belief is that it’s to have a voice, however small. To think that just like the people who write those fancy opinion columns for The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, you too can share your thoughts, vent, and complain to the public at large. Having said that, there are lots of really smart bloggers who have interesting perspectives on the news, politics, sports, business, etc., people who wouldn’t otherwise be heard in mainstream media.
“That’s why I read blogs, about 150/daily, and that’s why I write my own blogs too. Of my own blogs, perhaps the most interesting to your readers are both The Intuitive Life Business Blog, which is where I talk about the business of the Internet and how blogging can be an extraordinarily effective marketing channel, and APparenting.com, where my wife and I share real life stories of parenting in this modern world.
“Sometimes I’ll write something and never get a response from anyone, but other times I’ll write about something like an ethical challenge for a Fortune 500 business or the lame excuses men use for cheating on their spouse, and it’ll garner dozens or even hundreds of comments from other people, readers who share perspectives I never knew.
Final question: What about privacy? Isn’t that an important issue?
“You’re right to talk about privacy/identity and blogging too. That’s a serious issue and if you visit our parenting blog, for example, you’ll notice that we refer to our children as “A-“, “G-“, etc., and we never publish any pictures of them online. That’s for their [our] privacy, and yes, I am a bit leery about the oddballs and weirdoes out there…”
How about you, dear blog reader (and, probably, blogger in your own right). How would you answer these three key questions:

  • How many bloggers are there?
  • Why do people blog?
  • What about privacy while blogging?

13 comments on “Why do people blog, and how many of us are there?

  1. 1. Can you find that needle in that their haystack for me son! That is too broad a question to answer, but I would think that it really falls into bloggers who create unique content for a particular niche, and blog readers whom leave questions on blogs.
    2. I think the social aspects of blog’s allow for people to tap into markets where they otherwise would not be able to reach. People blog because they feel passionate about a topic, cause or movement and need a platform to express themselves to a wider audience. Some do it as a personal journal, other’s do it to promote their budding online business.
    3. Privacy is extremely important. People don’t need to know about your secret fetish, or why you shaved your cat! But funnily enough, I guess that because there is no immediate live audience in front of a blogger they can shoot off information that other’s just don’t need to know, other people are just warped. Maybe it’s a psychological thing? I would personally never discuss private information and share it to a wider audience on the internet.

  2. Fascinating post…
    I think Privacy is a lot less of an issue now as people are getting more comfortable with what Internet technology can do…I would imagine people raised similar privacy questions when telephone came into being…
    One of the reasons people blog is to connect with other folks and thereby increase their influence and sense of connectedness. This is becoming more and more important as we are losing real world communities as our culture is evolving in a way that worships individualism over all else…

  3. Online Community. In my opinion we really developed that concept at CompuServe with the Forums. I miss those days!

  4. I have created my blog to share my thoughts and experience. I read many interesting information in various blogs created by people. And they were good examples for me to start.

  5. I had written much but decided that as I think blogging is stupid if I say anymore that I think it is stupid I will be blogging too so That is all I have to say.

  6. blogs are stupid. it’s basically, mostly, usually self-absorbed, narcissistic freaks who detail the daily mundane aspects of their lives. The few who blog to stay in touch with out-of-town family are OK. The rest – get a life.

  7. It’s about leaving a mark on the planet. Having a voice, however small, however savvy, just a voice.
    A single one of our blogthoughts might just germinate in our lifetime or the hereafter. It’s a natural thing. Like a National Lottery punter, like a single hopeful spermatozoon, you have to be in it to win it.

  8. I think the “how many bloggers are out there” is equivalent to “how many licks does it take to get to the bottom of a tootsie roll”….. πŸ™‚

  9. I have been asking this question myself. Why do I like to blog? I believe it’s because I want to share my thoughts and experiences with my family that live out of state, but mostly to have a voice.
    My question is, why do I have this unhealthy tendency to check my stats, and desiring other followers? What makes me think, what I have to share is so important? something for me to think about.
    Thank you!

  10. 1. Too many
    2. Because people have misguided notion that every random thought they have is worthy of publishing to the world.
    3. There are consequences to wanting to be noticed by the world.

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