October 05, 2003

Blogs, Journalism, and Mathematics

The fallacy of "blogging == journalism revolution" has been on my mind today, from BloggerCon. I've figured out the key reasoning error:

People assume production is the same as audience

This is wrong. This is false. This is an unwarranted leap of logic ("then a miracle occurs") that has very little to recommend it, and much to argue against it.

A recent blog survey, "The Blogging Iceberg", has a good paragraph on this:

Nanoaudiences are the logical outcome of continued growth in blogs. Assume for a moment that one day 100 million people regularly read blogs and that they each read 50 other peoples' blogs. That translates into 5 billion subscriptions (50 * 100 million). Now assume on that same day there are 20 million active bloggers. That translates into 250 readers per blog (5 billion / 20 million) - far smaller audiences than any traditional one-to-many communication method. And this is just an average; in practice many blogs have no more than two dozen readers.

Everyone can't have an audience of millions. That's a simple mathematical fact.

So, what's the result of traditional media + blogs? Are the media which does have an audience of millions going to just go away? Why would that happen?

There's a reasoning disconnect, from a very idealist dream, of everyone reading and writing to each other (on an assumed equal or at least meritocracy basis), to the practical constraint that it can't happen in implementation. Because everything from economies of scale to clustering tendencies ("power laws") is going to produce a relatively few large-audience outlets, and everything else is noise.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in cyberblather , infothought , journo | on October 05, 2003 11:58 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

Subscribe with Bloglines      Subscribe in NewsGator Online  Google Reader or Homepage