Anyone in doubt about “this blogging thing”, should check out David Sifry’s late State of the Blogosphere post. David is the Founder of Technorati, the leading blog search engine, so he should know what he’s talking about!:
Technorati now tracks over 35.3 Million blogs
The blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months
It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago
On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day
19.4 million bloggers (55%) are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created
Technorati tracks about 1.2 Million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour
I started blogging in earnest in Jan 2004, although my blog shows a post from May 2003. But just think about it: since 2003 there was a 60 FOLD increase in the number of blogs. Crazy.
I am currently in the middle of reading the Economist’s Survey of New Media from last week’s issue. One quote that pretty much summed up what’s happening is from David Weinberger. The coming era of participatory media must be understood, says Weinberger, â€œnot as a publishing phenomenon but a social phenomenon.â€
In the Middle East, we’re starting to see interest in the blogosphere rising too. Just a week ago or so, Al Jazeerah had a talkshow about blogging. A few days ago I received a last minute invitation to fill in for a speaker at the Arab Media Forum in Dubai (couldn’t make it, sadly) to talk about ‘Bloggers Phenomenon in the Arab World’. (I struggled to find a link to the Forum’s site, but here’s a full report from Mahmood.tv who spoke at the event).
Actually, I am slated to speak about blogging at two upcoming regional conferences (more about that later). A theme developing in my mind these days regarding blogging in the Arab world is a comparative look at the relationship of bloggers in Arabia and the West to their respective local mainstream media (the MSM or the Mainsteamosphere, as Steve Gillmore likes to call it). In the West, bloggers operate in an environment that, more or less, has established traditions for freedom of speech and has a vibrant, colorful and professional media industry. In the Arab world it’s a quite different story. Sure we have Al Jazeera and other ‘free’ media outlets, but the gap between bloggers and most MSM in Arabia is very big. Actually, the gap between most reformist/progressive/liberal/non-conformist bloggers and their own societies is huge too, come to think about it.
This was illustrated by the much wider range of reactions to the Cartoon War on Arab blogs. From “let’s kill the cartoonists” to “buy Danish” there was a wide spectrum of opinion, which was not reflected in the Arab mainstream media. That’s why I call the Cartoon War the first test of the Arab blogosphere: it was the first global crisis that occurred after recognizable growth of an Arab blogosphere. How this gap will be bridged is an interesting story to watch in the coming months and years.