Last week, I was quoted in a New York Times article titled "Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest". The article discussed how many blogs are created, then either abandoned or neglected over time as the blogger loses interest. In general, this is true, just like all jump-in-lose-interest phenomenons (think: diets, fitness club memberships, new hobbies, and yes, Geocities web sites, MySpace profiles, and now, even Twitter fatigue).
However, the article missed the real point about blogs: that they've become a legitimate publishing medium with a huge audience. So while the article rightfully says that hundreds of millions of blogs have been started over the years, yet only 7-10 million are active in any given month, that misses the point about blogs as a media category. It doesn't take 7-10 million blogs to create a robust and relevant media experience; it literally only takes thousands or perhaps tens of thousands of blogs to reach the entire US internet audience. For example in magazines, just 2,000 magazines reach over 99 percent of the people in the US. In television, four networks and a hundred cable networks reaches the same.
So how many blogs reach everybody? No one has that exact statistic, but start with Technorati's 2008 State of the Blogosphere, and you can get a sense of what I'm talking about. In the study, we quote three independent research sources that in early 2008 estimated that three quarters of the US internet audience read blogs (and it's surely more now in 2009). If you count every mainstream media outlet, which now incorporate blogs into their sites, you're probably darn close to 100 percent. Further, our study highlights that 76,000 blogs have a Technorati Authority Ranking (blogging's equivalent of Google Page Rank) of 50 or higher, and that roughly a half million bloggers describe themselves as professional bloggers and report income off their blogs.
The net-net is that the overwhelming majority of the billions of blog-generated pages views being viewed as legitimate content are created by a relatively small number of blogs -- relative to the total created since the beginning of blog history. This mirrors what happens in any media type. The sheer number of blogs isn't the point; what matters are the active blogs with deeply contextual content that create a relevant media experience.