Blogosphere or Techiesphere?

October 16th, 2007

What is the blogosphere?

I’ve always assumed it means something like ‘all the blog websites’, or perhaps ‘the sphere around all the blog websites’. Apparently I’m wrong.

Google Reader is now publishing the numbers of readers for any blog. That is of course, the number of readers who use Google Reader. Last weekend, some “important bloggers” (such as TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington) started comparing readers per blog, and reading those lists, discovered that “the blogosphere” readership is dominated by techies. Apart from the fact that in my opinion Google Reader by no means can be normative for all the blog readers on this planet, I notice that there seems to be a big difference between what I would call blogosphere, and what those “important bloggers” would call blogosphere. They seem to focus only on other “important blogs”. I’ve never heard non-techie bloggers about ‘the blogosphere’.

What about someone’s blog about cats, my friend’s blog about life in Mexico, or a cooking blog that gives me tips on new recipes? My brother’s blog about his perception of stuff, or this very blog you’re reading which is about literally anything that pops up in my mind? Aren’t those part of the blogosphere just like the blogs by more prominent bloggers? Every time the word blogosphere comes up, it is used in the context of a tech-related part of it. Am I just missing something, or is that just too narrow a scope for “blogosphere”?

Yes, if you look at the tech part of the blogosphere, all you’ll see is techies for readership. Maybe techies like to use Google Reader. I know plenty of bloggers and blog readers alike (there’s a good overlap between those two groups) who don’t use Google Reader. I use NewsFire on my MacBook. My brother uses FreeRange on his Nokia 6120. We’re both non-techies (mostly), but we both read a good bunch of blogs on a daily basis.

So far I haven’t seen any stats about blogs that I can believe are even remotely true. As long as it’s only the prominent tech bloggers who look at it, you’ll only get the tech stuff to use for statistics. “Google Reader is by far the most used RSS reader” ? How do you know if you only have access to statistics from major online RSS readers? To find uses of offline RSS readers for example, you’d need access_log statistics from blogs. Which blogs are used to get those statistics? Most likely only the prominent blogs, as I sure never handed anyone my access_log. Online polls? My guess is that those polls are filled out by people who see them, and since those polls are living on techie blogs, it’s techie readers who vote.

No matter how hard they try, as far as I can see it’s impossible to conclude that “the blogosphere readership” is dominated by techies. Unless you’re a techie and you only look at it from the techie angle, and use techie blogs as the basis for your statistics. Excluding loads and loads of bloggers who don’t use Feedburner, and who don’t read other blogs through major online RSS readers. i.e. me 🙂

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