According to the results of a survey of nearly 5000 internet users released today by the PEW Internet & American Life Project, there aren't all that many surprises in answer to the question. But there are a few.
In an effort to continue our thinking about the digital beyond—and specifically the possibilities for alternative prose writers and publishers there—here are some of the highlights from the report:
- 8% of internet users, or about 12 million American adults, keep a blog; 39% of internet users, or about 57 million American adults, read blogs.
- 37% of bloggers cite "my life and experiences" as a primary topic of their blog; in other words, we may have something like a digital analogy for the unthinking and narcissistic narrativity of most pedestrian and parochial memoirs here—only without even an attempt at editing.
- 11% of bloggers cite politics and government as the main subject of their blog. Entertainment-related topics were the next most popular blog-type, with 7% of bloggers, followed by sports (6%), general news and current events (5%—isn't that extraordinary?), business (5%), technology (4%), religion, spirituality or faith (2%), a specific hobby or a health problem or illness (each comprising 1% of bloggers—among which irrational numbers, somewhere between underwater basket weaving and leprosy, I'm afraid, Now What would find a place).
- The most distinguishing characteristic of bloggers is their youth. More than half (54%) of bloggers are under the age of 30.
- Like the internet population in general, bloggers are evenly divided between men and women, and more than half live in the suburbs.
- Bloggers are less likely to be white than the general internet population. 60% percent of bloggers are, while 11% are African American, 19% are English-speaking Hispanic and 10% identify as some other race. By contrast, 74% of internet users are white, 9% are African American, 11% are English-speaking Hispanic and 6% identify as some other race.
- Despite the public nature of creating a blog, most bloggers view it as a personal pursuit. 52% of bloggers say they blog mostly for themselves, not for an audience—but then why, I wonder, don't they simply keep diaries?
- One in ten bloggers spends ten or more hours per week on his or her blog; most spend about two hours.
- 52% of bloggers say they do so mainly to "express themselves creatively."
- Only 34% believe the blog is a form of journalism, and only 56% of bloggers attempt to verify "facts" they include in their posts. Duck and cover: thought and argument have given way to bloviation and bluster.