Three metaposts in one

Three blogging-related items:

The numbers: This morning’s San Francisco Chronicle has an interesting numbers sidebar in an article on Matt Mullenweg of Automattic (the WordPress people):

175,000: Blogs created daily

113 million: Number of blogs

7.5 million: Active blogs

184 million: Bloggers

570,000: Posts every 24 hours

It’s the second and third numbers that I find most interesting–that more than 93% of blogs are dead or dormant. As I told my wife, “I would have thought it was only about 85%.” (I don’t know how “active” is defined, of course.)

Although, now that I look at it, that fourth number is a little mysterious. Given all the bloggers with more than one blog, how is it that there are 71 million more bloggers than blogs–or, more to the point, 24.5 times as many people who call themselves bloggers as there are active blogs?

The printouts: As some of you know, I find it useful–indeed, necessary–to print out quite a few posts, either because I’ll want to use them later in PALINET Leadership Network articles or, more likely, because I want to categorize them, save them for a few months (or more), and use them as source material for Cites & Insights articles. (I don’t believe any online tagging system would meet my needs here; I need to be able to shuffle and sort the actual pages.)

Three problems with that:

  1. A fair number of blogs, especially SixApart blogs (TypePad, Movable Type), won’t allow me to print out more than a one-page post from Firefox–they use “clever” code that only works right (or not?) in IE. (Actually, there are a few that won’t work in either–where cut-and-paste is the only way to print them.)
  2. Long posts–the kind I’m most likely to save–use a fair amount of paper and ink jet ink.
  3. It takes a while to print articles, especially if I’m trying to save paper by duplex printing: My neat little Canon multifunction printer supports duplex printing, but it takes about four or five times as long as simplex printing. (The printer waits for one side to dry before printing the other side.)

The last time I was sorting-and-shuffling, I noticed something: I no longer mark up the printouts with sections to be used. I put them in the order I’m going to use them, but I go back to the originals to cut-and-paste the sections I want to comment on.

Aha! A solution (although it has one small problem): I only print the first page of a post or article (or, for some clever WordPress users who’ve managed to make it so that all their sidebars print BEFORE the post itself, the first page of the post). Fast, minimizes paper and ink use, most blogs will print the first page of a post in FireFox.

What’s the one little problem? If a blog or article disappears between the time I print the first page and the time I want to use it, I’m SOL (unless I find a cached copy or only want stuff from the first page). Fortunately, the blogs I’m inclined to quote from are usually fairly stable.

“Microblogging:” Ugh.

Not the concept. I understand that Twitter works great (when it’s working) for loads of people and purposes.

The term bothers me, though. Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.

Most blog posts I read these days are little essays: One or more paragraphs on one or more topics, sometimes (not always) with links, usually (not always) fairly informal, usually (not always) coherent and with a brief narrative arc.

I don’t think you can do an essay in 160 characters or less, and I don’t think that’s what Twitter and its ilk are used for.

“Microcontent”? Sure, since “content” is almost as meaningless as “information.” “I’ll be at the corner of 5th and Elm in 10 minutes” is microcontent–but I don’t think it has much to do with blogging.

I’ve seen some suggestions that Twitter and its ilk are resulting in fewer really tiny or trivial blog posts. That might be true, and if it is, that’s fine. (I love good trivial blog posts–don’t get me wrong–but I’m not fond of “here’s what I’m doing right now.” Nor do I remember seeing much of that before Twitter was popular, at least in liblogs.)

Of course, it’s natural to try to combine different things under a common heading. I still remember the time when a number of people insisted that Cites & Insights was a blog, which was stretching a point a whole lot more than “microblogging” does.

There are many different ways to communicate. Always have been. Is Twitter “broadcast chat”? I think that’s closer than “microblogging.” Or am I, as usual, just hung up on language?

5 Responses to “Three metaposts in one”

  1. wrt printing and then referring to the original – I know both Gary Price and Mary Ellen Bates have highlighted various programs that allow you to bookmark and cache a copy – some with highlighting and notes… maybe something like that would help? – I mean, I know you said that you want paper, but that would capture an online copy for cutting and pasting.
    wrt microblogging – I agree. I definitely prefer “real” blogging for conference reporting in particular – much more meaty.

  2. Hmm, I’ve been waiting for Sifry to publish another State of the Blogosphere report (last one was April 2007) and thought maybe he had when Technorati was cited in the figures above. Did some checking and it seems the 175,000 blogs created daily statistic is taken from his 2006 report! The more recent 2007 report actually cites “only” 120,000 created per day. The 113,000 tracked comes from an undated page, (one still citing the 175,000 number) though seems reasonably more than the 70 million blogs tracked mentioned in the 2007 report. I couldn’t find any mention of the 7.5 million active blogs on the Technorati site… :-/

  3. walt says:


    In practice, very few posts and articles that I need will disappear in the three to nine months (esp. with caching). If I thought they would, then, yes, I’d use one of these programs.

    My little fix basically reduces my paper use (and, of course, this being Mountain View and us being us, I was already recycling all the paper–and it’s frequently part-recycled paper to begin with) and gives me what I need. (And helps keep the folders from overflowing!)

    Well, with conference reporting, there’s another issue: Liveblogging. I have to admit that I find liveblog conference reports extremely frustrating as compared to reports put together after the fact. I think they get more of the words, but I feel like I get less of the meaning…but, again, that’s just me.


    Had to rescue your comment from Spam Karma 2 (you had three links and haven’t commented here recently). If the new-blog creation rate is falling, that would make perfectly good sense.

  4. Laura says:

    Well, if you take blogging to mean posts arranged on a web page in reverse chronological order and with an RSS feed, then it seems as though “microblogging” would mean the same thing, only much smaller. If much smaller is taken to mean “much shorter posts,” then I don’t see why one couldn’t call Twitter microblogging. If you start to define blogs by their content, I think you run into a lot of problems.

  5. walt says:


    Technically, you’re probably right.

    Realistically, it doesn’t feel to me as though most tweets are intended to function like (most contemporary) blog posts.

    I guess, to me, that “microblogs” has the same feel that “miniarticles” would if you applied it to blog posts… Maybe technically justifiable, but it feels wrong–to me. As always, YMMV.