Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Survey Says

Last week the Pew Internet & American Life Project released its most recent report on blogging. From their survey, researchers discovered that bloggers were actually a more ethnically diverse group than Internet users as a whole, that they devoted an average of two hours a week to the activity, and that they were more likely to focus blog content on family interests or informal social networks than “politics, media, government, or technology.”

Academic bloggers might be a somewhat different species from these lay bloggers in the Pew Report, because they often see their blogging as a type of journalism, as a form of scholarly commentary on the news, or as a way to work out ideas for upcoming books or articles.

Yet bloggers inside the Ivory Tower and outside in the Real World may have more in common with each other than they do with the rest of the slightly more normally adjusted population. So here are the questions that I would have liked to have seen researchers ask of my fellow bloggers:

  • How much weight have you gained since you started blogging?
  • Do you ever dream about blogging?
  • When you are hungry, do you ever read food blogs rather than get up from the computer?
  • When you feel faint from inertia, do you ever read blogs about nature and the outdoors rather than get up from the computer?
  • What is the most embarrassing time signature that has ever appeared on one of your blog entries? (e.g. middle of the night, spouse’s birthday, Christmas morning, New Year’s Eve, etc.)
  • Do you not publish unsolicited poetry out of principle so that you can feel like a real editor?
  • Do you ever post a comment from a Viagra company out of boredom?
  • According to your regular reader(s), what vast conspiracy have you most often neglected to mention in your regular coverage of events in your life?

My UCI colleague Bonnie Nardi's 2004 Why We Blog looked at a smaller, more rarified group of Stanford bloggers but found a similar emphasis on the personal rather than the political. She also recorded the fact that the modal number of comments (or most common digit) was "0" on the blogs she studied.



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