Thursday, February 01, 2007

Pew Internet Survey and Blogging

As I was surfing the Internet recently, I stumbled across the results of a survey conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Projects regarding bloggers and blogging. Based on the research, I’m in the minority because more than half of all bloggers are less than 30 years of age. Far fewer people my age, that is, 50 and older, engage in blogging. Bloggers my age also tend to present information while those younger bloggers--those younger than 29--seek “to meet new people.” Despite the interest of the young, more than half of those surveyed report that they blog for themselves instead of blogging in search of an audience.

The great majority of those surveyed report that they have been blogging for less than three years; more than three-quarters of those surveyed also say that they will continue to blog a year from now. In the year that I have been blogging, I have seen many people in the so-called blogosphere either grow silent for a lengthy period of time or stop blogging altogether. The Pew Internet survey reported that many people think of blogging as a hobby and use this form of communication as a means of expressing oneself creatively. Clifford Stoll in “Isolated by the Internet” notes that the relationships generated through the Internet are less reliable and easily broken. It stands to reason why someone might think of blogging as a means of expressing oneself without a concern for audience.

As a writing teacher, however, I don’t really understand how someone can write without an awareness of audience. I imagine that there is someone reading what I write, and I aim to make myself as concrete and as clear as possible. Writing concretely should be a goal for anyone who writes. I also think that there should be a certain form of pride in what one writes and if one writes sloppily, without a concern for standard written English, it would be difficult to look back at what one has written with any form of satisfaction. I confess that I occasionally go back to previous postings of mine and read what I wrote, usually when I discover through my site meter that someone has accessed that page through a search engine. I critique what I wrote, look for holes in my argument, wonder at what the person discovered, and sometimes marvel at how easily I can make my way through my writing. I think it was E.B. White who said that writing is the hardest work he has ever done. I can’t think of many other things more satisfying or pleasurable. Training someone to think in sentences and paragraphs is what we writing teachers emphasize. Writing, unlike so many other activities, can be revised and reworked before it is uploaded for public consumption, making it possible to achieve clarity, despite how difficult finding the words might have been initially.