A new blog is created every second.. What about Arabia’s blogosphere?

Technorati blog stats

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!:

Sifry’s Alerts:

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.

From the Economist New Media Survey

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, “not as a publishing phenomenon but a social phenomenon.”

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.


2 Responses to “A new blog is created every second.. What about Arabia’s blogosphere?”

  1. Iyad Says:

    Hello Ahmad,
    Where did ‘Gatayif Abu 3ali’ banner go?
    Did he sue you for intillectual property? :)

    I have been enjoying your blogs for sometime, I believe you do take blogging seriously, respectfully and to a great extent, professionally.

    I would like to share a few thoughts with you, since you will be addressing blogging soon…

    Allow me to start with this comment: One senses that you seek objectivity, It is to my belief that this is the role of media (which is usually not the case ofcourse!)

    My concern here is that blogging is more personal (as compared with media) and this is the main difference. Again, to me blogging is about one’s own regard to something he reports. Otherwise, blogging becomes merely a means to move information from one place to the other. It is that personal bias that adds value and flavor to the ‘news report’. The world is constructed differrenty in everybody’s world after all; addressing one’s own bias is the only way towards objectivity, not by denying it or by trying to eleminate it. The more blogging the closer we get to a reality (to express that in an extreme way). One other way to look at it is that blogging has become a chance to take a stand and be critical about an event.

    In my case, blogging has already taken the role of online papers. I now live in the Arab Gulf region and Sattelite news channels are my preference for my daily doze of the rather depressing reality (news). Blogging on the other hand is partially a reflectance on these news with a personal touch and stand. This is when a dialogue is established; a dialogue between the blogger and the reader. It might be that having the chance to react and comment is what makes this dialogue possible. This is not the case with mainstream media. Furthermore, for third world people like us, having the chance to safely express ones self respond behind false names is sure very appealing to many.
    I hope everybody would use the chance to blog and comment in a civilized manner, blogging is very promissing indeed and as you said, the story has just begun.
    Regards, and all the best.
    Iyad

  2. Humeid Says:

    Iyad,

    First of all thanks for the insightful comment.

    What you see as me tending towards objectivity might be attributed tothe fact that my bit of professional writing activity was (still is) for mainstream media. It is also in my nature to see both (or more) sides to a story. That;s why I probably refrain from very biased rants.

    That’s my kind of blogging but I fully understand, and appreciate, the more personally biased bloggers.

    As long as this is a two way medium, as you said, it is perfectly fine in my opinion to express one’s biases.

    And, yes the story has just begun..

    Thanks

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