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June 13, 2005 || 5:41 am

I felt like this post warranted a bit of rambling: Where are all the missing bloggers? (via plasticbag.org)

Well, there are probably a lot who are like me...writing for a small audience of friends, family and the randomly interested (hello, whoever you are from Mexico who logs in faithfully every day!) and who don't have blogrolls linking to every well-known British blogger. So when you do a clickthrough starting at, say plasticbag, you will never get to me, reinforcing the feeling of a closed community. Aren't blogrolls a bit passe now what with del.icio.us and everything, anyway?

But, of course, us semi-anonymous bloggers exist in the USA as well. The question is really, why are there proportionally fewer Brit bloggers? and does this matter, either to the country as a whole or to the new media sector?

We all know most of the reasons why there will be more bloggers in the USA. There are more politics/news blogs because of the well-rehearsed reason that US TV and newspapers are so dire that the bloggers now provide almost the only source of what in Britain we know as journalism. The country is big - people move thousands of miles when they change job and a personal blog is a pretty efficient way of keeping in touch, especially when you live somewhere with no pubs so you have lots of free time (like me). The special-interest blogs, like knitting blogs, are also way more useful as networking tools when everyone lives miles apart. And, most of the major software developers are based over here, so naturally the most tech-related blogs are found here - and there are a lot of them.

But, does it matter? Not sure. I like (and spend too much time) browsing blogs, but almost none of my UK friends seem to do the same. I think that the UK sees the internet as a resource for information rather than a medium for personal expression, and the perception currently is that blogs are more vanity publishing than information resource. I think they could learn, as I have, that blogs are a great way (thanks in no small part to RSS) to keep up with developments in many different areas without having to shell out for expensive magazine subscriptions. I think that it may require more collaborative effort, and perhaps paid blogging/blog management, to kickstart a wider UK blogging/blog-using culture as to be frank, we don't all have time to start an altruistic blog on a subject of common interest.

I would like to see more people blogging as a way to contribute to the sum of human knowledge - dairy farmers blogging milk yields, or architects sharing useful knowledge on product specs on a group blog. I wish that more of the trade press blogged, or at least had a RSS feed (BD, AJ). I could see that, if I put the time and effort into developing and maintaining a blog about, say, the Thames Gateway regeneration, that it would become a useful resource for those working in planning who need up-to-date info about that particular bureaucratic maze, and that it might quickly become a group blog with other policy wonks. Then it might start becoming a news and opinion resource (after all, the TG is hugely controversial) and the 'straight' media might start picking up on some of the anonymous tip-offs that start appearing and it might make headlines. But I don't have the time to do this without someone accepting that it's part of my job - and really, why isn't Regen and Renewal starting those kind of blogs? Why doesn't Adnams [shameless plug alert] start an independent brewers blog? We are busier and less home-based in the UK and I do think that as a result our blogging scene needs way more input from organisations like these.

But, I'm also glad that in England people still talk to each other. We don't need to blog about politics or our daily trivia when we wake up to Radio 4, read the paper on the way to work and can't go for a drink without bumping into someone who works in the same field as you, and who will give you the gossip. Isn't the really important thing not whether the general population is writing blogs, but whether they are reading them - and reading them is all about reading outside of your own world, finding out new stuff, not the opinion of the guy who you sit next to at work all day.



"Why are there proportionally fewer Brit bloggers?"

On what stats do you base this assumption?

I think I agree in general with most of your points, but they are all based on that assumption... it's notoriously difficult to handle on the UK blogging scene, so it may just SEEM like there are fewer (proportionally)??? Not sure..

Interesting points though, I think the bloggers in the UK do it for much the same reason as the vast majority around the world do (i.e. NOT in the name of journalism), but again it's hard to "prove".

I guess we need an internet census!

By Blogger Gordon, at 10:56 am  

When I wrote this post I did a bit of research on the stats but didn't include it because the post was too long already - but based on the (unreliable) stats that I'm found, they all suggested that the UK has about half as many bloggers, proportionally, as the States - maybe even less.

But yes, we do need a census!

By Blogger HL, at 2:29 pm  

No probs - would love to see your research though. Every census starts with a small story.. no.. hang on.. that's not right..

By Blogger Gordon, at 11:26 pm  

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