Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The growing power of blogs

Chris Anderson's influential thesis is used as a framework on which to hang a lot of hopes.

Technorati's David Sifry has applied 'The Long Tail' theory to the influence of blogs and produced an interesting chart showing the growing power of weblogs when compared to the mainstream media: "Even though the amount of influence that a single blog may have is less than that of a single blog on the A-list, the aggregate influence of all of the long tail far outstrips even the mainstream media."

So what future effects does the media industry expect from these digital diaries? There are a range of diverse answers.

1. The age gap: This Gallup Poll shows the age gap in blog reading is particularly noteworthy because it is a complete reversal of the typical age pattern gap for news consumption. Gallup finds Americans' use of all traditional news media to be positively correlated with age. (For instance, only 32% of 18- to 29-year-olds read a local paper every day, versus 61% of those 65 and older.)

2. The media's PR role: an article in Toronto's The Globe and Mail shows that blogs are diminishing the media's role as a public relations tool. Blogs, theoretically written by 'normal people', empower companies to have direct contact with their consumers, thus bypassing the media who traditionally has played a major role in PR firms' message. A prediction that blogs will become more influential in swaying public opinion comes from two 'trust' polls, one in Canada and one in the United States. The first showed that 55% of Canadians trust a 'person like yourself', falling only behind academics and doctors, and that 56% of Americans do the same, up from a mere 22% of peer trust only two years ago.

3. The business opportunities: 'The value of blogs to businesses is their ability to enable and facilitate communication', says Frank Barnako at Market Watch. Barnako says that blogs are both good and bad for publishers; good because their content is being read, attracting people to their website, but bad because it becomes impossible to charge for their content. That's his view, others have a different perspective. Chuck Richard, vice-president of Outsell Inc., a technology market research firm that has recently released a report on blogs concurs that 'they are going to be big'. A similar article at The Deal provides a summary of the venture capital that is being presently put into blogs and citizens' media. Although it notes that it's still early in the blogging game, the article predicts that 'social media' investments will not experience the same crash landing that technology companies went through in 2001: Social media is 'Not the next bubble'.

1 comment:

bogan-A said...

Will the flipside be that very few people can make a living at the 'creative' end of writing, music, film etc.?

So that almost all the output will come from people like bloggers or guitarists who's day jobs are there as a support for putting out the eclectic creative mass that stretches out into the longtail?

Not suggesting it would be necessarily bad- indeed, if it also matched up with a greater flexibility in the workplace many of these people might be able to combine part-time work with their output.

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It is simple, and has a program that logs into blogger and rewrites your HTML for you. Visitors can then easily comment, and also trackback (and you can announce yourself with trackback pings too).