Friday, March 16, 2007

How Much Do You Hate The Gates of Memphis? A Lot? A Fair Amount? Just a Little?

The Memphis Business Journal ran an online survey asking their readers how much they read blogs, then posted the results in "Business Pulse results: Memphians hardly care for blogs". The brief story began:
The majority of an online survey participants don't bother to read blogs.

Memphis Business Journal asked its online readers last week if they liked blogging. Of the 106 respondents, 41 percent said they don't waste their time reading blogs. 34 percent said they only read blogs on occasion.

However, 10 percent enjoy reading others' blogs and 6 percent have their own blogs and post often. A surprising 9 percent don't even know what a blog is.

2 things:
  1. were "do you bother to read blogs?" and "do you waste your time reading blogs?" survey questions? Maybe they were, but I can't find the actual survey.
  2. if a majority doesn't bother to read blogs, what's the percentage that does? 34 percent on occasion, plus 10 percent who enjoy reading other blogs, plus 6 percent who have their own blogs and post often equals ... 50%. 50% -- well that's definitely not a majority. But doesn't that also mean that the percentage that doesn't bother to read is also 50% -- definitely not a majority either! So the opening line "the majority of an online survey participants don't bother to read blogs" is incorrect. Readership is split down the middle. Avid readership is pretty low but they didn't say "bother to read regularly", they said "bother to read."
Why such a slant?

Perhaps a clear defeat of a pale young pajama-wearing whippersnapper upstart reads more entertaining than a split decision. I appreciate this explanation because I don't want my avid-to-occasional readers falling asleep in their Wheaties either.

But could it be something else?

This is absolutely not a story unique to Memphis, but the continuous, public, no-barriers-to-entry conversations and debates created and nurtured by this and this and this and this and this and all of these are with few precedents in Memphis' history.

50%, 10%, 1% -- all improvements over silence.

Update/Apology: I had copied and pasted the text above from the MBJ article. Little did I know I also copied their HTML, which included a reference to an ad (I must have that adblocked on my other computer). It's gone now.

As a consequence of this mistake, I've changed the title of the post. You win this time, Memphis Business Journal!

Update Again/Apology Again: Although I read the Memphis Business Journal, I didn't see the article until Mediaverse:Memphis posted about it. The Field Guide to Memphis also comments on the article.

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Blogger Gregg said...

I hate blogs and never, ever read any of the 72 in my rss reader. they all suck.

In all seriousness, there is a huge stigma about blogs in the general public. blog=myspace=xanga or blog=themdamnliberalconservativeidiots

12:55 PM  
Blogger Gregg said...

oh and in all my dealings with the mbj as a business person, they know so little about bidness it's incredible. pretty much the same goes for the atlanta bj too. and nashville.

12:58 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

Gregg, me too! I hate blogs too! But not as much as you because I only hate the 50 or so I have in my RSS Reader.

To tell you the truth, I like the MBJ. In fact they had a really good story about Sears Crosstown a few weeks ago. But this survey seemed ... slanted. I didn't want to get into the "they're out to get us" angle, because it appears to inflate bloggerdom's importance. But you have to wonder.

Thanks for reading.

2:34 PM  
Blogger fearlessvk said...

my own anti-blogging stigma (which i STILL harbor, in a way, despite having a blog now, and despite reading many great memphis blogs, like your own) came from my tendency to associate blogs with a really embarrassing kind of narcissism that the internet has definitely exacerbated. i still cringe when i stumble on blogs that are all about "last night i had 7 beers and dude i got soooo drunk and kathy flashed her boobs at us" blah blahb blah SHUT UP!!!

but i do like blogs that are actually ABOUT something, and that strive to produce some kind of public conversation about public issues. still, we have to find some way to make sure those conversations can also reach people who for whatever reason aren't regular internet surfers. especially since there is an obvious economic bias in who participates in the whole "web 2.0" business.

12:16 AM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

fearlessvk, I think we can oversell the "web 2.0" phenomenon (aka the read-write web), and forget that many are not participating out of apathy or lack of resources.

Apathy we'll never be able to do anything about except by making the conversations and tools more interesting. That's one of the freedoms -- the freedom to yawn.

The resources, on the other hand, are rapidly approaching $0. The tools are already there and the cost of hardware and connection are moving there very, very quickly. Hopefully I can help make this happen in Memphis.

Still, I think the read-write web is huge. I may have just drunk the kool-aid, but I believe it's electrification meets the printing press. It's going to revolutionally evolutionize learning, democracy and economic development everywhere, but most excitingly, here in Memphis.

That sounds like overselling, but it's a dream, not a press release.

12:30 AM  
Blogger fearlessvk said...

i guess i'm kind of a pessimist by nature - i'm enjoying the whole blogging thing, i love receiving comments from people and having discussions with them, but i don't imagine i'm exactly changing the world in the process (in fact, i don't imagine i'm having ANY impact whatsoever, to be honest)

but really, my aversion to techno-optimism comes from my geek years, back in the late 90s, when i read wired magazine all the time. i don't know what wired is like in these days, i haven't picked it up in about 8 years, but back in those days, it basically presented the internet as THE solution to every imaginable problem on earth - and the rest of the universe for that matter. not only that, but it also made these preposterously over-optimistic predictions all the time about massive impending changes both in technology and in society deriving from those changes in technology - none of which ever seemed to pass. after years of reading wired, and drinking the kool aid myself, and getting all excited about the revolution, one day i just said to myself - WHAT revolution? you guys have been predicting the same imminent revolutionary changes for the past 5 years now - and nothing appears to have changed! even the technological changes have been miniscule compared to what wired told us was coming just around the bend. i think i was kind of like a religious person who suddenly loses their faith. and ever since then, i've been wary of techno-optimism, or techno-utopianism, or whatever you want to call it.

and yet slowly i am getting dragged into this blogging world and slowly slowly slowly starting to question my own pessimism. soooo - you never know. maybe the formerly religious atheist can find faith again ;)

5:35 PM  

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