Not everyone wants to keep a digital soapbox up

On Blogs

May 06, 2007|By Troy McCullough | Troy McCullough,Sun Columnist

Technorati's most recent state-of-the-blogosphere report was full of the familiar optimism we've seen in past reports.

The blog-tracking site is now monitoring more than 70 million blogs and seeing 120,000 new blogs created each day.

"The state of the blogosphere is strong, and is maturing as an influential and important part of the Web," summarized founder Dave Sifry in his twice-yearly report last month.

Sifry's assessment is true from a bird's-eye view, but a closer examination of the numbers strips away some of his optimism.

Business Week editor and blogger Heather Green asked Sifry for a few more details not listed in his original report and concluded that blogosphere growth has finally reached an inevitable plateau.

While everyone agrees that 70 million is an incredible number, Green argues that it doesn't give an accurate picture of what's happening in the blogosphere. Instead, she focused her attention on the number of blogs that are being actively maintained by their creators.

"It's a very different number from the overall 70 million total blogs that Technorati ever reports tracking," Green wrote in her analysis. "As well, the percentage of blogs that are active compared to the total number of blogs tracked by Technorati is declining, according to the data that Sifry sent."

Green notes that Technorati was tracking 15.5 million active blogs - defined as blogs that have been updated within the previous 90 days - as of March 2007. That's a paltry increase over the numbers from October 2006, when Technorati was tracking 15.2 million active blogs.

Furthermore, Green notes that the active blogs in March represented about 21 percent of all blogs being tracked. That's down from 27 percent in October.

To put that in even more perspective, Technorati was tracking 13.7 million active blogs in May 2006 representing 37 percent of all blogs being tracked.

So while the number of new blogs continues to grow at a phenomenal pace - creating for some the appearance of uninhibited and endless growth - it's clear that the number of regularly updated and maintained blogs has all but leveled off.

Based on these findings, it appears that plenty of people are still experimenting with the medium but are quickly finding that it's not for them. The die-hard bloggers might be in it for the long haul, but the latecomers aren't nearly as enchanted.

"It may well be ... that most people interested in setting up their digital soapboxes already have. And that folks are opting to do other types of social media, including video, podcasts, and social networks, which appeal to them more," Green concludes.

And in this cooling-off period for blogging, Green also finds room for optimism, noting that readership of established blogs continues to grow and the number of blogs Technorati lists in its 100 most popular Web sites has nearly doubled in the past several months.

Mirroring an assessment from Gartner analyst Adam Sarner, she writes: "Since the audience reading blogs continues to grow, this classic tech cycle of hype and maturity is good news for the remaining blogs. Those left standing are the influencers that attract audiences and advertisers. But overall, the question of just how big the blogosphere could be is becoming much clearer."

You can find Green's full assessment of the state of the active blogosphere here: businessweek.com/the[underscore]thread/b logspotting/archives/2007/04/blogging[underscore]growth.html

And Sifry's report can be found here: sifry.com/alerts/archives/000493.html

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