How to be old—we're all learning

6. Historic data about bloggers: their age and choice of blogging platforms

Time Magazine cover: person of the year 2006 is “You. Yes, you. You control the Information Age.”

I’m continuously searching for data about older bloggers, and yesterday I discovered a 2006 study from the Pew Internet & American Life project titled Bloggers: A portrait of the internet’s new storytellers. Now, 2006 is 12 years ago. To an older person, that’s like yesterday, but in internet terms it’s a lifetime. Their findings are fascinating. (By the way, the Pew sample was 233 people, roughly comparable with our 220. and biased in some ways, as was ours.) Let me share a few surprises from this report.

1. Personal blogs were by far the most common in 2006

The Pew Internet Project blogger survey finds that the American blogosphere is dominated by those who use their blogs as personal journals. Most bloggers do not think of what they do as journalism. (Pew/Internet 2006)

So in 2006, the personal blog ruled. The topics analysed were as follows — and hey, no mention of travel or makeup or ageing:

  1. “my life and experiences” (37%)
  2. politics and government (11%)
  3. entertainment-related topics (7%)
  4. sports (6%)
  5. general news and current events (5%)
  6. business (5%)
  7. technology (4%)
  8. religion, spirituality or faith (2%)
  9. a specific hobby or a health problem or illness (each 1%).
  10. other topics: opinions, volunteering, education, photography, causes and passions, and organizations.

(Pew/Internet 2006)

Wouldn’t it be fascinating to know the distribution of blog topics in 2018? I can’t imagine how one would get this information, given that there are millions of blog posts every day, and a blog is not necessarily attached to any one platform such as wordpress.com or Facebook.

2. The blogging population in 2005–06 was young

The following demographic data comes from two surveys of internet users conducted in November-December 2005 and February-April 2006, and the sample (n=7,012) was much larger.

The most distinguishing characteristic of bloggers is their youth. More than half (54%) of bloggers are under the age of 30. (Pew/Internet 2006)

According to Sysomos, by 2010 the average age of bloggers may have been even younger; they found that 73.5% were under the age of 35. Does that mean that older bloggers are a small minority even now? If you can find any later statistics, please tell!

3. In 2006, 55% bloggers used a pseudonym

In our Older Bloggers Survey, roughly 12% included their full name or first name in the blog title. I’m not sure how many include their full name as part of the information they provide on their About Me page. So I can’t state how many of the older bloggers in our sample use a pseudonym without further research. I wonder what the facts are?

55% of bloggers blog under a pseudonym, and 46% blog under their own name. (Pew/Internet 2006)

4. In 2006, most bloggers spent less time blogging than they do today

This result from the Pew Internet study is confirmed by subsequent research into the general population of bloggers. As for the older bloggers in our 2018 sample,  only 28% spend 2 hours or less per week writing and publishing their blogs, 32% spend 3–4 hours per week — but exactly the same percentage (10%) spend ten hours or more on their blog.

59% of bloggers spend just one or two hours per week tending their blog. One in ten bloggers spend ten or more hours per week on their blog. (Pew/Internet 2006)

5. In 2006, bloggers cited very different blogging platforms

Pew/Internet asked bloggers what tools they used to build and display their blogs. Gaze on this snapshot of times past and wonder! Blogger: Blogspot are a bit like wordpress:org: wordpress.com (or vice versa—set me straight, somebody!). I guess “something else” included wordpress. So Squarespace existed in 2006? These platforms are still in use except for Microsoft FrontPage.

  1. LiveJournal (13%)
  2. MySpace (9%)
  3. Blogger (6%)
  4. Xanga (2%)
  5. FrontPage (2%)
  6. Typepad (2%)
  7. Blogspot (2%)
  8. Moveable Type (1%)
  9. Squarespace (1%)
  10. Something else (17%)
  11. Built own blogging software (2%)

Thanks to Pew/Internet for these insights into the world of early bloggers.

Image (c) Time Magazine copied under Fair Use provisions.