The blogosphere is alight with new numbers from the latest Pew Survey Report, which sought out information on how blogs are being used. Many are noting that they find the numbers depressingly low, but I am shocked (shocked!) that a quarter of American Internet users read blogs. That’s just amazing to me. Great work by Pew — I’m glad that there is someone out there obtaining solid data about the diffusion.
One of the other statistics that has been highlighted (and is highlighted in the report itself) is that more than half of the respondents still didn’t know what a blog is:
Blogs still are not that well known
As a reality check on the blogosphere and its prominence, we decided to ask a general question of all internet users: “In general, would you say you have a good idea of what the term internet ‘blog’ means, or are you not really sure what the term means?” Some 38% of internet users said they had a good idea and 62% said they did not.
Those who knew about blogs were well educated, internet veterans (about half of those with at least six years of experience knew what a blog is), and heavy users of the internet. In contrast, the internet users who did not know about blogs were relative newbies to the internet, less fervent internet users, and those with less educational attainment.
I am renewing an objection that I know Lee Rainie has heard a number of times now. If someone asked me if I was really sure what the term means, I would honestly answer “no.” I don’t think there is a clear agreement as to what we mean when we use the term “blog,” and I think that definition is getting more rather than less, ambiguous. Knowing “what the term means” does not equate to “know[ing] about blogs.” It’s natural to assume that you have to know what it is to use it or read it; but this is pretty clearly, I think, a false assumption.