Behaviors of the Blogosphere: Understanding the Scale, Composition and Activities of Weblog Audiences (PDF)

· 50 million U.S. Internet users visited blog sites in the first quarter of 2005. That is roughly 30% of all U.S. Internet users and 1 in 6 of the total U.S. population

· Five hosting services for blogs each had more than 5 million unique visitors in that period, and four individual blogs had more than 1 million visitors each

· Of 400 of the biggest blogs observed, segmented by seven (nonexclusive) categories, political blogs were the most popular, followed by “hipster” lifestyle blogs, tech blogs and blogs authored by women

· Compared to the average Internet user, blog readers are significantly more likely to live in wealthier households, be younger and connect to the Web on high-speed connections

· Blog readers also visit nearly twice as many web pages as the Internet average, and they are much more likely to shop online —Behaviors of the Blogosphere: Understanding the Scale, Composition and Activities of Weblog Audiences (PDF) (ComScore)

A business report, with numbers that confirm a trend many have noted about the blogosphere in general, and that I have seen in my own student blogging. A small number of blogs dominates the scene, with a few sites that stand an order of magnitude above the average, and then a long line of sites with less and less activity, followed by an even longer line of dead sites.

The categories reported by the study aren’t exclusive, but those women bloggers — what do they write about? Something other than politics, hipster lifestyle, and technology? “Wonkette” is listed under both “Politics/News” and “Women (Authored)”.

The study credits Peter Merholz with the term “blog,” without noting that “blog” is short for “weblog,” a term coined by Jorn Barger, and that the form of the blog dates from the earliest “What’s New” and “Link of the Day” sites on the World Wide Web.

But these are nitpicks. Since the report is designed for people who want to think of bloggers as potential customers or as targets for advertising, naturally I’m not all that inspired by the report’s approach. Still, a study that claims that bloggers are geekier and richer than the average internet user challenges the feel-good technosocialist “blogs free you from oppression and help you fight The Man” rhetoric that many bloggers (including yours truly) would like to believe about their favorite medium.

Is there something about blogging that attracts affluent high-tech geeks with high-speed connections, or are affluent high-tech geeks with high-speed connections simply visiting more websites of all kinds, and therefore showing up more frequently on ComScore’s radar? Nothing I’ve read surprises me, but it’s still useful to see some numbers.

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