44% of American Internet users have created online content

 by Martin Belam, 1 March 2004

Blogging is still infrequent...and apparently sound statistical analysis is rarer still. According to this Yahoo! story based on an Anick Jesdanun report for the AP:

"The Pew Internet and American Life Project, in a study released Sunday, found that somewhere between 2 percent and 7 percent of adult Internet users in the United States actually keep their own blogs.".

Somewhere between 2% and 7%? How vague do you want to get? Later in the article it says:

"The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.".

So the Yahoo!/AP story actually says that potentially more than one-in-ten internet users in America blogs. Or -1% do. Not very useful.

However, as often seems the case, a bit of digging around with the source material yields something a bit more interesting. The PEW report itself was not about blogging at all, but about all kinds of content creation. And I've never quite understood the logic which splits out those who have a "blog" from those who have a "personal website". Dated entries and trackback don't make this site any less my personal web site.

In contrast to the Yahoo!/AP story, PEW themselves are currently leading the report on their homepage with the tagline that:

"44% of Internet users have created content for the online world through building or posting to Web sites, creating blogs, and sharing files."

They've adopted a very wide definition of "content creation" - a lot of which is akin to what I would have called "community participation"

"In a survey fielded between March 12 and May 20, 2003, the Pew Internet & American Life Project sought to measure the extent of these phenomena. Using a broad and encompassing definition of "content creation," we found that 44% of adult American Internet users - more than 53 million people - have contributed material to the online world. Content creation in our definition includes creating a Web site, posting material to another Web site for work, family or another organization, posting materials to a personal or another person's Weblog or online diary. It also includes posting photos, artwork, writing, or audio and video files to the World Wide Web, to a chat room or discussion or newsgroup or to a central server for sharing with others. The average number of content creating activities for a content creator is relatively small - 1.7 activities - and that suggests the most Internet users are content for now to find a small number of ways to make their contribution."

It is an interesting read - not surprisingly the main content creators are of a younger generation - but the report also identifies some content creation trends amongst older users. However it still strikes me that for such an interactive medium, with such a broad definition of content creation, the 56% majority consumer in America is still passive.

I'd love to see some similar research for the UK.

1 Comment

I see you got there half a week before me :)

Interestingly more people have a webcam running than blog. Now that's the killer app for the BBC. Porn always sells

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