Kevin Burton questioned the logic behind Dave Sifry’s latest report on the size of the blogosphere based on Technorati’s feed index, and now there’s a fascinating discussion going on based on his post. Burton questions Sifry’s claim that there are 50 million blogs. But look over at Sifry’s report and you see that he’s careful enough to write, “On July 31, 2006, Technorati tracked its 50 millionth blog.”
So we’re back in 1997 or so when search sites would report on the exploding number of Web sites they had in their indexes and those of us in the industry actually building large sites would think, hmmm, things are growing like gangbusters, but are we really going to count every abandoned Geocities page as a bona fide Web site?
There’s no right or wrong here. What you count depends on why you’re counting it. As Kevin Marks points out to Burton, an “abandoned blog” — one that’s no longer being updated — isn’t necessarily a worthless blog. Sometimes, for instance, people post for a discrete period of time to record an event, then move on. On the other hand, that 50 million number probably includes the test blog I set up one day over on Blogger just to learn how the system works, and, you know, there’s nothing to see there. I assume that despite Technorati’s best efforts some significant portion of that 50 million number also includes spamblogs (“splogs”) and the like. Sifry discusses this at length (he says that over 70% of the pings his service receives are from “known spam sources” — sheesh!).
What I find interesting is the sense I get that people are crestfallen at the notion that, gee, there might be only, say, a couple million really active bloggers, and maybe twice that number of occasional active bloggers. In the history of media and human expression, a couple million people regularly and actively publishing their writing to a globally accessible network is extraordinary, unprecedented and likely to have vast consequences we can’t foresee.
In other words, if Burton is right and the growth in the actual, active, committed blogosphere is linear rather than exponential, it doesn’t really matter. There’s still a revolution going on.
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