Don’t think so? Take a long, hard look at the numbers. Technorati, a blog research firm, monitors 15 million sites and 1.4 billion links. (That’s billion as in billion.) The Pew Internet study says that 50 million Internet users are regular blog readers, and that a new blog is created every 7.4 seconds – good for about 12,000 new blogs a day.
The word blog is an abbreviation of the phrase “Web log” and most blogs share certain important characteristics. They are personal, conversational, informal, and a “post” on a blog is likely to be answered by other bloggers in similar fashion. These posts are invariably shown in reverse chronological order and you can usually follow the dialogue backwards via a track-back function. Bloggers also are inclined to incorporate lengthy quotes and links to additional information. Let others print the news that fits: in blogs, opinion is paramount.
Blogs are a democratizing force in media and communications because there is no barrier to entry – anyone can get started by going to a site like Blogger.com, now owned by Google, and blogging away on anything under the sun. Making money is a much bigger challenge, though bloggers can make some spare change from Google and Yahoo! and smaller companies that can deliver advertising based on the context-specific content of a given page. Subscriptions are just now creeping into the mix, but it takes high-value information to get anyone to pay for anything on the Web. How to make money beyond the standard click-through Web advertising model remains a challenge.
Even so, there’s still room for explosive growth, considering that 89 percent of Web users have yet to knowingly plug into blogs. Aspen, for example, is all but blogless – hard to believe, considering that just about everyone in the valley has an opinion about just about everything. But no matter. When bloggers have access to their own printing press, you better watch out. Compared to this, Gutenberg is nothing but a footnote set in lead.