Do you own blog? If yes, why? How often do you post new material to your blog? Do you go beyond yourself in your blog posts or do you just document the moments of your day?
Do you read other blogs? If yes, how many do you read every day?


Please don’t post any links to the blogs you read or our discussion
will become a SpamFest of URLs and you will force me to edit your
comment to remove the links.
If we believe people write — and blog — in order to affect people
other than themselves, one cannot help but be disturbed and concerned by what Google’s chief executive officer Eric Schmidt revealed in November when asked about the influence of blogs:

DORAL, Fla. — It appears that at least some elected public
officials have found something to loathe and fear as they loathe and
fear the mainstream media: Bloggers.

That became clear at the Republican Governors Association meeting going
on at the Doral Resort here this week when Eric Schmidt, the chief
executive officer of Google, offered a forum for Republican governors
about how the Internet was changing the way campaigns are conducted in
this country.

Mr. Schmidt, responding to a question from Jim Gibbons, the
governor-elect of Nevada, said the Internet was causing great problems
for newspapers, pointing to declining revenue and circulation. “They
are in trouble,” he said.

The real news made that day was what Eric Schmidt said about the
current status of more and more blogs filling the noise of space:

Mr. Schmidt said that by by Google’s calculation,
a new blog is being created every second of every day. He said that
Google now estimates that the average blog is read by one person.

Ouch!
One person reads one blog.
I wonder if that one person is also the blog author?
A year before Eric Schmidt claimed 86,400 new blogs were being created a day — the number was closer to 70,000 new blogs a day.
As of this moment, WordPress.com
— our blog megahost — is reporting over 833,000 blogs hosted on
WordPress.com alone.
Who are these new Bloggers, where are they coming from, what are they
doing here, and why do they think anyone cares about what they have to
say?

Or does readership no longer matter?
Is the value in owning a blog today just being able to tell people you
have a blog and, by inference, you own some piddling relevance in our
virtual world?
We are fortunate here at Urban Semiotic
to have been around — in one form or another — for over four years.

We established a mission and a point-of-view long before the Blogging
Boom hit. Our readership is pretty stable and we have more than one
reader a day.
Is it enough to have a blog with a single reader? If yes, why?
How many daily readers do you think a blog should have in order to
sustain its mandate on the web as something worthwhile and pressing to
read every day?
Can Podcasts or Videocasts ever challenge or replace the power of the
written word online?

39 Comments

  1. a blog with only one reader (who is not the blogger him/herself) is enough reason to keep on blogging. why? i guess it’s akin to what christians would say, that jesus christ would die even if it was only to save one person. bloggers are certainly not god, but it’s that feeling you get when you know one person actually cares about what you write, what you think, what you feel… you have incentive to keep on blogging.

  2. Hi sulz!
    I’m not sure if a single reader is enough reason to sustain a Blogging effort.
    Sure, you’d start with one reader but what if — after a month or a year — you find you still have one reader?
    Why not just exchange email with your single reader instead? Why maintain a blog?

  3. There is no shame in the singular David. One good deed, One friendly word.
    If just one person reads your words and feels enhanced by having done so then surely it is all worthwhile
    I recall a lyric from a long forgotten British band called IF, and it has stayed with me all these years
    …..I want it said when i am gone…..I moved the world just one step on.

  4. davidseven —
    I ask you the same question I asked sulz: If you have one reader, why not just exchange email? Why bog down the blogoshpere with a blog that has a single reader? Hope is not enough; though gall is aplenty.

  5. If a person writes for his/her own, if a blog is like a daily diary then the owner doesn’t need readers for it; but the counter point is – why to publish it online then? I am not sure.
    But if a blog is published for mass reading then the writer definitely needs more than one reader, or else the effort is not worth it.
    Can a magazine survive with one reader only – I doubt. In fact, the answer is negative.

  6. Hi Katha —
    I understand all blogs start small and, we hope, grow. If there are now nearly 90,000 blogs being created a day — that’s nearly 33 million new blogs a year! — who can rationally think the current reader force could ever sustain such a narrow and individualistic effort?
    If we blog for selfish reasons — okay, then — blog away with yourself as your only reader!
    If, however, we blog with the intent of influencing minds other than your own — then we, as a blogging community, need to decide if a single reader is worth that effort or not.

  7. Right, if 90,000 new blogs are created daily, then who is reading what? Who is even writing what?
    Those who want to contribute something significant that goes beyond the daily journal would surely want more than one reader – that’s the whole point of writing!

  8. Right, Katha! You have 90,000 people reading their own blogs every day without much hope of getting new readers or reclaiming old ones. Established blogs and Big Blogs always have to deal with the pendulum effect of readership and commenters and authors — but new newer “About Me” blogs — have a harder time of staking a claim that they really have something new and cogent to argue every day.
    As more blogs flood the atmosphere, do we need to pause and wonder why these new spaces are being created? Or do we just accept it now that blogs are now inalienable, divine rights even if the writing is poor and the readership is null?
    I think that you’ve hit upon the core issue: These 90,000 individuals believe they have something to say even when they do not, and they soak up resources, bits, bytes, air, oxygen and relevance from the “realer” blogging efforts to be legitimate and engaging and interesting as agents of fomenting change.

  9. Chance, serendipity even chaos theory. If the blog was subscriber only and you only had one subscriber the email premise might be valid. But it’s open and accessible to all and so the blogger must think it’s pro bono. And lets not overlook ego as a driving force of content on web 3.0

  10. David, it is extremely hard to maintain a blog that comes up with some unique topics or that makes us think after living a regular, busy life.
    Forget about maintaining my own blog, I can’t even keep up with my own set schedule for writing here – reading other blogs is out of question.
    What’s the point of creating a blog in every nano second then?
    If I want to publish a magazine based on a belief that I have something to say which might be considered important – will I do it without being sure of the readership? Will I be able to sustain?
    Anybody is welcome in this blogworld now, can take space without much effort, can keep it as long as they want – that’s why there are 90,000 blogs being created daily.

  11. Now you’re getting into it, davidseven!
    Blogs are the new vanity license plate, the new prissy dog, and the new celebrity of the moment. You’re nobody in Web 2.0x if you don’t have a blog to press into the world!
    I think that’s a problem.
    If everyone has the bomb, then what’s the use in blowing up the world?

  12. Hi Katha —
    I think if you start a blog you think you’ll get a million hits a day. It is that ego that needs to be fed even if you aren’t talking about saving the world or your local corner of it.
    I’m still in favor of blog licensing. You can’t have one unless you pass a test, demonstrate a need you are meeting, and have a publication plan for 7 day a week coverage.

  13. well, it doesn’t really matter sometimes if anyone reads your blog or not. its just a nice place to put down your point of view and sometimes a good place to vent. a blog is sometimes a personal journal, and sometimes a diary – sometimes it informs, sometimes it encourages. somehow or the other a blog is one of the many ways that people let go of stuff that is inside them and needs a media of expression.

  14. Welcome to Urban Semiotic, madhavi!
    If it doesn’t matter if anyone reads your blog or not, then why bother? Journals and diaries used to be personal and private and came with locks and keys. What’s the advantage to spewing a private life in public on the web?

  15. Yes I blog, in several places, for different audiences and for different reasons.
    I “Live Journal” too keep up with one particular group of friends – that is a friends only blog.
    My main blog is here on WordPress after jumping ship from them who shall not be mentioned.
    I have registered blogs/spaces just about everywhere you can have them to protect my name. They all point to my main blog.
    I blog for a variety of reasons – fun, meeting people, exchange of ideas, rants and rages and business. The business aspect has worked surprisingly well in introducing new customers which I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise.
    On my main blog I try and post once a day – sometimes it is more. If I go away I try and stack posts before I go.
    I make time to read my blog roll every day and comment if I can – I always visit new bloggers who comment on my blog and return the favour on a quid pro quo basis. If they have taken the time to read and comment on my blog it is only fair to repay the courtesy.
    Sadly a lot of the new blogs are *flogs* ie commercial blogs and phishers who rely on others material to pad out their blogs – often word for word. Other are just vehicles for google ad-sense programs and pay per click advertising.
    The blogging exchanges are full of them at present. Blogging is also seen as the way to make a quick buck in some quarters. On those blogs readership doesn’t matter – clicks and click throughs do.
    My readership is pretty stable – it peaks when I do adult posts ( although the comments drop ).
    As to one blog – one reader – I think sulz summed it up – hope. We all hope that what we have to say is interesting, funny, relevant to others.
    On one hand I like your idea of blog licensing – on the other hand my desire for freedom of the internet and freedom of expression over-rules it.
    I wonder what the average life span of the 90,000 blog created daily is ?

  16. Hi Nicola!
    Interesting analysis! Yes, I agree your WordPress.com blog is a good business adventure without your needing to shill yourself. My feeling is your site is populated with commenters who adore you and hope for reciprocal comments.
    Blog licensing would remove the Splogs and Adverts-only sites and Scrapers and replace them with verified content in an ongoing basis.
    We will have The Blog Police who can “shut down” and “arrest” you for being in violation of your license to always be interesting — supplemented by the Auxiliary Blog Police who will have pre-approved status to admonish you in comments and make snarky comments without being deleted. This is the way of “The Blog of Tomorrow,” or “The Blog of 1984 If We Had Blogs Back Then.”
    Free speech is overrated anyway and already ruined by the shining on of 90,000 new blogs a day.

  17. David,
    Funny that you bring up this topic because in February I posted something very similar to what you are basically saying; that blogs are the internet spam of the future. If anybody is interested in reading it, feel free to click on my name; its a direct link to my article about the insignificance of blogs. I hope this won’t be considered spam, because it directly relates to this article and will further the discourse. And for the sake of your comments section, I’ll do some cheap copy and pasting 🙂
    The significance of words isn’t it? We like to listen to storytellers — words that we find passionate, interesting, unique, and above all, significant. I too read many online journals (yes, not blogs — fart) every day, just to stay busy at work. But the only articles I actually enjoy, are those I find interesting, where the author actually sincerely wrote from his own experiences and had something to share; not something recycled that can be found on any youtube or other media outlet.
    In all this blog spam of this Web 2.0 (lame ass name) nonsense, the human voice is being drowned out by the automaton who copies and pastes content onto his blog (burp) in order to look and feel significant.
    The only words worth reading are those that are significant; the only opinion worth sharing is one that is significant; and the only stories worth telling and listening to are those that are significant.

  18. Hi alexkruez —
    It’s a good thing this issue is being discussed now in many different places. It isn’t a question of freedom of expression but one of necessary quality.
    One bad, out-of-control, blog can paint everyone else with the same negative indices.
    I think a lot of blogs today are just Spam traps and Scrapers reposting original content from elsewhere and that lessons the legitimate efforts elsewhere.

  19. Hi David,
    I read this blog and some of my own blogs on a daily basis.
    I don’t know if it would be worthwhile to write a blog for one reader. That just means that the person hasn’t reached out to others to try to form a community.
    I pulled the plug on some of my older blogs and have been doing some experimentation with various other types of blogs. A have a new blog that hasn’t been fully indexed by Google yet that once had 8000+ unique visitors in one day based on traffic from Technorati and Microsoft Live Search. I haven’t updated that blog for a while, so the traffic has slowed down — about 800 or so people wander into the blog.
    Another blog I have is interesting because it is based on a local hot button issue. My visitor logs show interesting visitors, including the governor’s PR firm and major private toll road operators — have stopped by to check out my site.
    I’m in favor of the project (with some reservations) and there is a local group that is opposed. I’ve been reaching out to them in a friendly way and in the spirit that meaningful discussion will result in the best legislation. I give them information I come across while on the net and they’ve posted my link in their message board. I’ve also been in touch with a developer blogger who has been writing about the political aspects of the project as well.
    The key to good blogging is to add something to the community and to our world.

  20. David,
    I agree with you about blog liscence.
    I am not a gifted writer; a good piece of writing doesn’t come to me naturally. I take a lot of time, concentration and effort to come up with something worth reading. Sometimes the experience drains me out.
    I don’t know about others though…but one thing I know for sure – if you are talking about quality – that doesn’t come easily, not by producing 90,000 new blogs on a daily basis.

  21. Hi Chris!
    Thanks for the insightful and fascinating comment! I know you shuttered a couple of your popular blogs. Was that by choice or mandate? 😀
    You’re spot on with the purpose and the power of blogging. You try to bring insight and understanding and change beyond the you. You write, you blog, in order to change the world and congeal comprehension.

  22. Hi Katha —
    I appreciate the time and effort and thought you donate to your articles here.
    That’s a good point about quality. No one could read 90,000 new blogs a day — and one could not even begin to comprehend 1% of them if one tried!
    So the servers fill up, the rankings get diluted, the blog exchanges lose meaningful content and what used to be interesting solitary voices poking out at the world from the wilderness can now not even begin to raise a shout to be heard and recognized above the kerfuffle and the din from the birthing cries of 90,000 new blogs a day.

  23. I know the wife checks out my blog everyday so I have the one reader at least other than myself.
    But looking at my counter stats I seem to have some regulars. Building it up and developing a style and hopefully increase the reader base. Always great to get a comment and gives you the feeling the work you are putting into your site is worthwhile.
    I find writing, however inane, cathartic and a great stress reliever at times.
    I tend to check out the blogs in my blogroll regularly and add blogs I am likely to read on a regular basis.

  24. Hi David,
    The other blogs were shut down by consensus within the family.
    Blogging and internet forums can bring different communities together in new ways that might not have been possible even 10 years ago.
    I wrote a recently about how the Internet is forging new coalitions of unlikely allies.
    The fight against the new highway proposals in my state is an interesting exercise in the blogging community because it seems to be bringing the Left and the Right together into interesting coalitions.
    I found a link to the Daily Kos in a conservative-leaning blog to a post where a liberal writer quotes a conservative student newspaper.
    In our area, the GOP supporting farmers have joined with the hard-core Democrat urban core’s issue advocates to fight for more mass transit — two groups that usually are on opposite extremes of the political spectrum.
    Right wing groups opposed to the “North American Union” of Mexico, the United States, and Canada are allying with left-leaning environmentalists worried about wetlands.
    It’s interesting how each of the different groups have been able to reach out to each other via the Internet to break through the traditional political boundaries to work for common goals.

  25. I think you make a very valid point there Chris – it is the ability to form networks and groups that you wouldn’t otherwise – meeting of like minded people that you wouldn’t otherwise that has been an unexpected bonus from blogging for me.
    If I hadn’t blogged I would never have found Urban Semiotic for starters and would have missed all the fascinating discussions.

  26. David,
    Thank you for all your encouragement and giving me a chance to write!
    If I really love to do something then it is reading and writing…
    Well, life is yet to be that luxurious…!!!
    You ate right, quantity doesn’t always guarantee quality – it’s proven!

  27. Hello
    Life tends to get in the way for most bloggers, who do indeed have a vanity angle. Anything you put “out there” for the public is done for a number of reasons, and we have to admit that vanity is often the companion of self confidence. Praise for our actions, writings, musings or singing drives us to continue, to improve, to inspire.
    There’s a softer side too; providing inspiration, enjoyment, provoking thought… you get a rich return on your investment if you can touch just one person, and all the better if you touch more that one.
    Your blog, for example, is both provocative and touching. Sometimes it’s annoying too, but the open attitude to comments generally means things balance out.
    I blog very infrequently, but the value to my family and friends to have a few updates (I have a handful of RSS and email subscribers who write to me infrequently to say they appreciate getting updates from time to time). I don’t believe we all have to blog seven days a week, as long as we don’t have any false pretentions. There’s a lot of crap out there for sure, but there’s also the odd post, photo, feeling which can bring hope or happiness. What you choose to read and how you filter content on the internet is your own personal choice. Where there is wheat, there is chaff. It’s your job to sort through it, not some “licensing authority”.
    -Fruey

  28. I’m puzzled about Google’s statistics. One blog is read by one person… ever? Each day? At a time?
    Are you suggesting that blogs only read by one person should pack up and call it a day? ; )
    I used to blog purely to communicate with friends–and I have kept that blog open for the same purpose, but I opened a wordpress blog to address some of the spillover thoughts from my graduate work. It’s a challenge–are these ideas and questions still legible when they are released from the jargon of contemporary academics? Will people care? The results are highly varied according to wordpress’s blog stat chart, and seem to be linked more to my keywords than the actual quality of thought…. I posted about sex, and the blog hits skyrocketed. I posted about Barthes and Benjamin and I had, well, about one reader yesterday. I’m not ready to pack it in!

  29. As I understand it, Tanglethis, the results Google reports are one reader per blog probably per day and, I argue, that blog reader is probably the blog owner!
    I realize calling out in the dark has its advantages — it’s just becoming a harder and quirkier task to make work without, as you suggest, relying on boobs and crotches and salacious tagging to get heard.