The question of how many blogs are out there is currently buzzing in my e-mail inbox and in my (Dutch) feed list. Why do we even care about the total number of blogs? Carl Bialik from the The Wall Street Journal explained it as follows in 2005:
First, let’s step back and consider why we’re counting blogs at all. You no longer see articles that attempt to demonstrate the legitimacy of the Web by stating how many Web pages there are. But blogs are still in the process of entering mainstream consciousness, so numerical credibility is important; bloggers themselves cite the statistics a lot.
It’s been almost a year (April 2007) since David Sifry wrote his latest report on ‘State of the Blogosphere.’ Even though Sifry’s reports only include blogs that are indexed by Technorati, the numbers in the reports are often used to generally reflect upon blogs, blogging and the blogosphere. Sifry’s reports started out as a quarterly reports but are no longer published as frequently. Does this mean that we no longer need “numerical credibility” to account for the phenomenon of blogs? Sifry stated in his latest report that:
The state of the Blogosphere is strong, and is maturing as an influential and important part of the web.
For nearly four years, we’ve been tracking and enabling the growth of this phenomenon and theirs is much in our data to indicate that the medium is “growing up.”
Is the medium mature now? Is that why nobody seems to be counting blogs anymore? Do we no longer feel the need to count blogs because we have established their importance?
I don’t think the blogosphere is quite mature yet. Technorati currently states it is tracking over 112.8 million blogs, a number which obviously does not include all the 72.82 million Chinese blogs as counted by The China Internet Network Information Center. Blog statistics often concern the English language blogosphere but we should not forget about the millions of other blogs that are not always included in estimations, not to mention thousands of blogs that are being created every day.
Another important question we should ask ourselves is where these numbers come from. How do we even count blogs? Should we use numbers provided by software platform, by country or by indexing engine? Duncan Riley used to do frequent ‘manual’ blog counts on the Blog Herald based on software platform and country. An incredible initiative in an attempt to achieve a rough estimation on the total number of blogs. However, it would be nearly impossible to re-do such a count because it relies on many sources that unfortunately no longer count blogs.
The ‘easiest,’ most obvious and arguably the most accurate estimation on the total number of blogs could be given by the indexing engines and the ping services. Even though not all blogs send out pings to the ping services, all the major blog software platforms do. Unfortunately ping servers do not disclose the amount of blogs that ping their services. Technorati as a ping service and indexing engine does disclose the number of blogs they track but Google doesn’t. Am I the only one who is curious about the total amount of blogs Google is tracking?
Have we reached such a great amount of blogs that we no longer feel the need to count them? Should we count them? Does it matter how many blogs are out there?
Author: Anne Helmond
Anne is a New Media Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She participates as a blog researcher in the newly found Digital Methods Initiative of the University of Amsterdam. Anne also writes about blogging and academics on her personal blog and the collaborative Masters of Media blog.