The blogosphere under a loupe

22 March 2012

Written by: Anne Nielsen

Have you ever stumbled across blogs that you’ve never heard of before, just to find out that they were amazing? Ever tried the opposite? Most of us have many experiences with blogs; some of us are regular followers, while others simply read them occasionally. But who are the people behind them, and what drives them to blog? What are the topics blogged about and why do we care?

Blog search engine and directory, Technorati has since 2004 annually studied the growth and trends of the blogosphere. Last year showed an increase in blog updates, and a tendency for the bloggers to spend more time on their sites. However, what are the faces behind the average bloggers?

The study shows that the average blogger is male at the age of 25-44. He is modern and well established, and chances are that he has children. He possesses a full time job, and his blog is considered to be a hobby, which he updates a couple of times a week. The context of his blog varies, but mostly contains personal speculations and anecdotes, or technology-based subjects. The average blogger finds his inspiration from other blogs, news sites and family and friends. Finally, he is a frequent user of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as other applications.

A majority of bloggers have a graduate degree. This can be explained with a notion that some well-educated people may possess a sense of entitlement to and a need to speak out in the public sphere. Given their education they might have a genuine knowledge of certain subjects, and thus feel that this should be communicated. Another explanation for the tendency could be that an increasing portion of the bloggers uses these sites to promote their own business. Incorporating blogs allows for the businesses to communicate through different media platforms, and when utilized fully it can carry with it many advantages. Among these, it can give businesses a personal aspect, and thereby enable interaction with consumers.

More and more people become aware of the opportunities that blogs can provide, and this can give us an indication of their motivations for creating one. Today, blogs are considered an excellent tool for self-promotion. A number of companies will google applicants for new jobs, and with this in mind, a blog can become a fantastic advertisement of ones abilities – create a blog with substance, and it will become your best CV. Former upstart writer Matthew Dixon previously explored just how to promote yourself by making a blog.

Blogs are also becoming a channel to be heard. The People’s Daily popular blog-site ‘Strong Nation Forum’ highlights the use of blogs as an alternative Chinese public sphere; ‘New media is changing the environment of public opinion, rebuilding public life, offering every member of society the opportunity to express and enable ordinary individuals to speak aloud.’

This latter aspect of blogs viewed as a channel of the voice, may explain why half of today’s bloggers are anonymous. Blogs can be an excellent way of expressing ones opinions, but putting your name to these opinions can also seem frightening for some. Being anonymous can create a feeling of being boundless, and thereby enable the bloggers to disclose their true attitudes.

So, why are we, as readers and followers, interested in hearing these people’s voices? Technorati’s study shows that personal musings are one of the topics most blogged about, but for what reasons are we entertained by other people’s pocket philosophies? I suppose blogs enable us to snoop around different lives, and just as Twitter and Facebook give us a chance to identify ourselves with others. I find that blogs allow me to put my life into perspective, they’re good for discovering new trends, and finally there’s just something fun about ‘hearing’ other people’s thoughts. But that’s just me – why do you enjoy the blogosphere?

On the look-out for new blogs to follow? Check out upstart’s homepage, and discover what ‘blogs we write’.

 

Anne Nielsen is third-year Bachelor of Media Studies student at La Trobe University. She is currently on exchange from Aarhus University, Denmark, and is upstart’s deputy-editor. You can follow her on Twitter @AnneRyvang.