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Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson is a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. With a background in journalism, publishing and web design, Suw is now one of the UK’s best known bloggers, frequently speaking at conferences and seminars.

Her personal blog is Chocolate and Vodka, and yes, she’s married to Kevin.

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Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson is a freelance journalist and digital strategist with more than a decade of experience with the BBC and the Guardian. He has been a digital journalist since 1996 with experience in radio, television, print and the web. As a journalist, he uses blogs, social networks, Web 2.0 tools and mobile technology to break news, to engage with audiences and tell the story behind the headlines in multiple media and on multiple platforms.

From 2009-2010, he was the digital research editor at The Guardian where he focused on evaluating and adapting digital innovations to support The Guardian’s world-class journalism. He joined The Guardian in September 2006 as their first blogs editor after 8 years with the BBC working across the web, television and radio. He joined the BBC in 1998 to become their first online journalist outside of the UK, working as the Washington correspondent for

And, yes, he’s married to Suw.

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Sunday, May 15th, 2005

Is blogging still a fringe activity?

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

According to Kevin Marks, there are now 10 million blogs being indexed by Technorati. If each blog is run by a different blogger (invalid assumption, but still), then that’s the equivalent to 1 in 6 Brits running a blog.

According to Jeremy Wright, there are now “10 times as many people blogging as own iPods [and] 50 times as many people reading blogs as purchasers at all online music stores combined”.

A lot of people still don’t know what blogging is, and many of those who do know don’t understand the implications or the wide variety of uses to which blogs can be put, so people feel that blogging is a fringe activity. Even those of us who should know better sometimes feel that blogging has still some way to go to mainstream acceptance, that we haven’t reached the tipping point.

But I think we have. Are iPods fringe? Is buying music online fringe? If these were fringe activities, then Apple wouldn’t be crowing over the iPod’s success, and those iPods wouldn’t be full of all the music they are full of.

Ten million is a lot of blogs. That makes blogging a mainstream activity. The only trouble is, it doesn’t look mainstream unless you’re slap bang in the middle of it, and even then the disconnection and contradiction between the simultaneously solitary and social nature of blogging obscures understanding of our position within both the blogosphere and the world at large. In reality, blogging is mainstream, but it still feels fringe.

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6 Responses to “Is blogging still a fringe activity?”

  1. Phil Wolff Says:

    In the last seven years, the blogosphere has grown to tens of millions of active blogs, more than 12 million in South Korea alone. As Yahoo! and the Asian portals get it right, millions throughout Japan and China become blogging newbies. But out of a worldwide online population of a billion, dozens of millions is still a niche.

    Skype has 35 million users, so far, about 34 million adopting in the last 12 months. Compared to any regional phone company, it’s still small, a niche player.

    A better question may be: how are blogs and other tools changing behavior? Is blogging a behavior that’s sustainable for life? Other behaviors, like making phone calls, texting, or eating fast food, are in the fabric of everyday life, and part of global culture (at least in industrialized countries).

  2. Mad William Flint Says:

    Yep. Still fringe. The numbers look big, but people in work still think they misheard me when I say ‘blog’. “statistically speaking” nobody knows they’re even there yet.

  3. Jeremy Wright Says:

    There is no such thing as “mainstream” anymore. According to statisticians, mainstream is just a collectin of succesful and growing niches. Blogging is one of those.

    For something to be mainstream, it needs to simply be (according to the stats guy I spoke to this weekend): “visible, unique and known by 5% of the population”. Which blogging easily is (feel free to argue known vs understood though).

  4. Tish G Says:

    In a culturally relativist society, whether or not something like blogging is “fringe” or not depends on who you talk to. And the nature of the blog is oftentimes relative to the blogger

    Talk to a tech-minded person and blogging could be *everything*…the next Really Big Thing. the next great business tool, the next great community builder, the next great whatever the tech person feels is lacking in society.

    Blog as savior.

    Talk to someone who’s just your Average Joe or Jane and they might ask “what’s a blog?”…as I’ve had several friends ask when I’ve told them about mine.

    How we explain blogs, and how particular blogs funtion, too, is relative to the blogger. Some blogs function as something like old usenet newsgroups where there is a comment thrown out by the blogger, then a bunch o’comments. But, unlike usenet groups, there’s little moderation because of the assumption that it’s a blog run by a particular person who’s claimed a level of punditry for him/herself.

    Or does the blogger define what he/she does as a form of community building, or an outlet for one’s writing, or any number of purposes the medium might be used for?

    As for the numbers of blogs…relative again. How many of these millions have been abandoned? Are these millions contained in the U.S. alone or are they worldwide. If you concentrate 10 million blogs in the U.S. alone, blogging’s significance looks one way. If you concentrate the same 10 million in, say, Britian, where the population is lower, then exclude Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, then blogging’s significance looks far greater than it might be.

    Futher, if you spread the 10 million over the entire globe…well, then blogging’s like people on soapboxes talking to one another thru megaphones. And it’s only the ones with bullhorns who are considered “significant”…even though what they might be saying is nothing more than a recitation of the front page of the NY Times.

  5. Half Sigma Says:

    If there are 10 million U.S. based blogs, but we remove spam blogs and blogs where there is only a single entry, there’s probably only 3 million blogs (just a wild guess), and with 300 million people living in the U.S., that’s a mere 1% of the population having some kind of blog with more than one entry.

    But I estimate that there are only 20,000 blogs actively in the blogging community as we know it, and of those only 5000 or so have more than 20 readers a day.

  6. Jeremy Wright Says:

    Half Sigma, Technorati is tracking nearly 1,000,000 new blog posts per day. Does this mean that of the 5000 blogs, most are posting 2000 posts per day?!