February 09, 2005

Cites & Insights, February 2005 (Pew "State Of Blogging")

Walt Crawford's amazing library 'zine Cites & Insights is already on the February 2005 issue, and I feel guilty because I barely skimmed the January 2005 issue. Maybe it needs better hype. After all, which would you rather read, a webzine blurbed like this:

* Ethical Perspectives: Republishing and Blogging 1-4
* The Library Stuff 7-11 Trends & Quick Takes 7-11
* Perspective: Wikipedias and Worth [Revisited] 11-19
* The Good Stuff 19-21
* Session Reports: ALA Midwinter 2005 21-24

Or like this (deliberate supermarket-style):

Article Recycling - are professional journals giving you your money's worth?
RSS in libraries - a solution looking for a problem?
Blogging and Triumphalism - How many people have NOT heard of blogs?
Wikipedias - Collective nonsense or distributed knowledge?
Ruminations over Aaron Schmidt, Michael Stephens, Karen Schneider, Rachel Holt, Seth Finkelstein, and more ...

The Wikipedia material itself is fascinating. But I can't resist excerpting his take-down of the Pew State Of Blogging Report:

Here's Pew again, once more extrapolating from 1,800 interviews to give us the precise state of the nation on internet-related issues. (Yes, 1,800 interviews chosen with appropriate tools should be enough for reasonably accurate projections, given a whole set of hard-to test assumptions.) This time it's about the blogosphere. I didn't download or read the whole report, but I did look at the summary and some comments about the study and the summary. I'm assuming here that "adults" means "age 18 and over." I'm going to repeat some of the key points in the summary, using precisely the information given, but wording them just a bit differently: 96% of U.S. adults have not created weblogs. 86% of them do not read (and, I would extrapolate, have never read) weblogs. 80% do not know what a blog is. 93% have never posted a comment or other material on blogs. During the political campaign, 95% of adults did not read political weblogs--and 97% did not read them regularly. 97-98% of U.S. adults do not use RSS aggregators or XML readers. 52% of blog creators are more than 29 years old. 58% of blog creators are not particularly well off financially, living in households with no more than $50,000 annual gross income 61% of blog creators do not have college degrees. As some readers have figured out by now, I've just provided the inverse of the claims actually made in the summary--and adjusted for the difference between 120 million adult internet users and around 222 million adults (2000 census).

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in cyberblather | on February 09, 2005 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)

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As always, thanks for the comment. Yeah, maybe I could hype it more, but I'm terrible at writing snappy titles--and, after all, it's now a sponsored journal (lower-case "j"), not an experimental zine.

You can really thank j Baumgart for inspiring my restatement of the Pew numbers. She was troubled by their apparent labeling of 39% as "most" in one case. I just took it a little further. And, unsurprisingly, a couple of people have said I got my numbers wrong, because they can't be bothered to read what I said. (That is, "No, you're wrong, 5% of adult Internet users use RSS." Which is another way of saying that about 97%-98% of American adults--without the "Internet user" qualification--don't.)

I love Pew's work; they're just a little too enthusiastic for my taste in spinning the outcomes. And maybe I'm too -- what, academic? shy? introverted? -- in spinning my stuff. Such is life.

Posted by: Walt Crawford at February 10, 2005 12:00 PM