Blog readership in US jumps up 58 per cent in 2004

MUMBAI: While blogging in India is still at a very nascent stage, in the US it has seen a phenomenal growth of 58 per cent last year. A recent study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project in North America that while 62 per cent of online Americans do not know what a blog is, by the end of 2004 blogs had established themselves as a key part of online culture.



The study revealed the following findings:

7 per cent of the 120 million US adults who use the Internet say they have created a blog or web-based diary. That represents more than eight million people.

27 per cent of Internet users say they read blogs, a 58 per cent jump from the 17 per cent who told us they were blog readers in February. This means that by the end of 2004, 32 million Americans were blog readers. Much of the attention to blogs focused on those that covered the recent political campaign and the media. Some 9 per cent of Internet users said they read political blogs "frequently" or "sometimes" during the campaign.

5 per cent of Internet users say they use RSS aggregators or XML readers to get the news and other information delivered from blogs and content-rich websites as it is posted online.

The interactive features of many blogs are also catching on: 12 per cent of Internet users have posted comments or other material on blogs.

At the same time, blogs have not yet become recognised by a majority of Internet users. Only 38 per cent of all Internet users know what a blog is. The rest are not sure what the term "blog" means.



These findings were culminated from two nationwide telephone surveys conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The first was between 4 November and 22 November and involved interviews with 1,324 Internet users. It has a margin of error of +/-3 per cent. The other was conducted between 23 November and 30 November and involved interviews with 537 Internet users. That has a margin of error of +/-5 per cent.



In June 2002, the Pew Internet and American Life Project began asking about blog creation, wherein 3 per cent of Internet users said they had created a blog or web diary that others could read. By the beginning of 2004, the figure had grown to 5 per cent. Our survey in late November showed that the number grew to 7 per cent, which represents more than 8 million people.

What was also found that 57 per cent of blog creators are more likely to be men, 48 per cent are under 30 years of age, 70 per cent have broadband at home, 82 per cent have been online for six years or more, 42 per cent live in households earning over $50,000 and 39 per cent have college or graduate degrees.

It was also found that about 11 per cent of Internet users had read blogs at the time of this survey. The figure jumped to 17 per cent in February and leapt to 27 per cent in November. The growth in 2004 alone amounts to 58 per cent.

It was also found that more than one-in-10 Internet users (12 per cent) said they had posted material or comments on others’ blogs. That represents more than 14 million people and is a threefold increase from April 2003.

The rise of blogs also spawned a new distribution mechanism for news and information from websites that are regularly update their content. Instead of searching the Internet for information, RSS gathers the material from websites and blogs one tells it to scan and it brings new information from those sites. RSS aggregators are usually downloaded and installed on users’ computers and then are programmed to “subscribe” to the RSS feeds from blogs, news Web sites, and other content-rich sites.

However, a reality check done on the blogosphere and its prominence was conducted by asking this question --- "In general, would you say you have a good idea of what the term Internet 'blog' means, or are you not really sure what the term means?" to this, some 38 per cent of Internet users said they had a good idea and 62 per cent said they did not.

Those who knew about blogs were well educated, Internet veterans and heavy users of the Internet In contrast, the Internet users who did not know about blogs were relative newbies to the Internet, less fervent Internet users, and those with less educational attainment.

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