According to a Pew Internet & American Life Project, in conjunction with BuzzMetrics and Dr. Michael Cornfield, blogs are hot. In addition, two Pew surveys conducted in early 2005 show that 16% of U.S. adults (32 million) are blog readers.
The blogger audience now commands respect, says the current study. It stands at 20% of the newspaper audience and 40% of the talk radio audience. Meanwhile, 6% of the entire U.S. adult population has created a blog. That's 11 million people, or one out of every 17 American citizens. There is a current sense among communications elites that it is important to have a blog.
To understand why blogs are hot, consider the concept of buzz, the report suggests. Buzz is the sound heard in public when a lot of people are talking about the same thing at the same time. Some buzz forms around trivial topics. But buzz can alter social behavior and perceptions. It can embolden or embarrass its subjects. It can affect sales, donations, and campaign coffers. It can move issues up or down, and re-frame institutional agendas. A Business Week cover has said, "Blogs Will Change Your Business."
The studies posit a blog-buzz connection for some of the following reasons:
First, the internet is a great place to roam for buzzworthy topics. All sorts of social and political communication occur online, from commercial advertising to educational symposia, concerted rabble-rousing to casual chewing the fat, technical databases to home-made cartoons.
Second, the blog as a net form is conducive to buzz. A blog is basically a web site consisting of a collection of entries in reverse chronological order. It is personal, accessible, spontaneous and open to discussion.
Third, adjacency develops out of shared interests, as do audience followings. Internet users do not go to blogs out of obligation, nor do internet users see blog content as a consequence of someone else's financial arrangement to have that content placed before them. Blogs are perused voluntarily, and returned to automatically or habitually.
Fourth, the A-list bloggers occupy key positions in the mediascape. Journalists, activists, and political decision-makers have learned to consult political blogs as a guide to what is going on in the rest of the internet.
Find the complete PDF report here