The romantic ideal of 19th century and early 20th century America has the town square as the center of business and socializing -- that's where town hall, the church, the city park and any number of businesses were and where people met to converse, play, and do business.
Now, for better or for worse, the internet serves some of those functions. Admittedly, this creates a distance (for an online relationship cannot compare to a face to face relationship) but it also creates new connections (see my earlier post on "Gruntled Center, I'm The Eagle and Child" -- online connections can enhance and create face to face relationships).
The Pew Internet and American Life Project has just released a 33 page report on how blogging is being used -- they did a phone survey of over 7,000 adults, of whom they found 4,700 were Internet users. Of that 4,700, 8% were bloggers. They found several things out:
* Blogs are primarily used as personal journals of experiences, ideas, and thought. (only 1/3 of bloggers say that they blog for an audience)
* 54% of all bloggers are under 30
* Bloggers are major consumers of political news (72% actively seek political news, vs 58% of internet users in general)
* Bloggers get information from non-online sources such as tv, Radio, and papers as well
* Most bloggers post infrequently, not on a set schedule.
Blogging has grown significantly and we're still trying to measure the influence of this media. I think it is still an all things to all people. Some social mores and norms still have yet to be developed -- and some folks need to learn some basic common sense (if you wouldn't want your mom to read it, then why would you post it on the internet for the world to see?).
Seth Godin's taxonomy helps greatly: there are three kinds of blogs -- a boss blog (aimed at a small group to communicate specific information to that group), a cat blog (aimed at sharing personal information -- what the Pew study indicates to be the main reason most folks blog), and the viral blog (the bloggers who want to spread ideas and influence opinion and behavior).
Why do you read blogs? Why do you blog?
Other posts of interest on new technology:
Open Source Culture
Off the Shelf:Darknet A book review concerning the new digital culture
Christians engaging web 2.0
Why the Eagle and Child My apologia for why I write