Friday, February 7, 2020

Blogging: How much of a phenomenon?

Blogging: How much of a phenomenon?

I talked about the future of blogs. Here we will try to reach a "measure" of how successful blogging has become and how much more it is able to achieve.

It is pertinent to note that we are not talking about measuring the success of a specific blog, but about blogging as a phenomenon.

Before addressing the difficult issue of measuring your success, let's stop and ask: What is blogging? On one level, it is a tool that individuals use to communicate and express themselves. In fact, this was the only use initially conceived. As its use skyrocketed, it also emerged as a tool for online 'communities' to interact and disseminate news or useful information. The most recent emerging use (completely unanticipated in the first years of the existence of blogs) is that commercial organizations interact with various stakeholders.

Therefore, it seems to be a reasonably general definition of blogging, a technology that lends itself to being used by individuals, communities or organizations as a means of communication, dissemination of information or interaction.

How do we establish a measure of the success of something? One way is to identify your "potential" and measure what proportion of that potential has been achieved. For example, if your company sells flat-screen TVs, the potential market would probably be equal to the number of households in the world that have a family income of more than a certain number. If you are trying to popularize a new 'world language' that you have invented, the potential probably corresponds to every human in the world who speaks the language. If you sell beer, potential sales would probably correspond to every adult in the world drinking 150 liters a year! *

However, it is often difficult to assess the potential in this way. A substitute and more practical approach would be to identify the "best" achieved by anyone so far. In the previous TV example, the "best achievement" may be the sales volume reached by the market leader.

Therefore, the problem is reduced to discovering the "best possible" use of blogs. To do this, we must stretch our imagination a little and ask, what are the "best" technologies ** that meet approximately the same needs as blogs and what is the use they have achieved? The "best" technologies we have that allow communication, information dissemination or interaction are probably phones, email and conventional websites.

The number of telephone lines (landlines and mobiles) in the world is estimated at around 2.1 billion.

How many websites exist in the world? Yahoo indexes 19 billion web pages, while Google indexes about 9 billion. Taking the smallest of the two, and assuming that the average website has about 20 pages, the number of websites can approximate about 500 million.

Let's be conservative, taking the smallest of the 3 figures (for phones, email users and websites) that is 500 million. To make it even more secure, suppose many websites represent uses that blogs simply cannot. So, let's say the 500 million figure exaggerates the figure we are looking for by 90%. This leaves 250 million (assuming that many websites are extinct, etc.). It seems safe to say that this represents the use that blogs should achieve. Therefore, the "best possible number of blogs" is at least 250 million. The current number of around 80 million suggests that blogs have covered approximately one third of the distance to their "best attainable" use.

Of course, we will be making a short blog if we finish this analysis without considering the deadlines. While the phones have taken more than 20 years to reach their current use (counting only from the moment the mobile phones were invented), the email has taken more than 15 years, and the web more than 10 years, blogs They have been around for only 6 years or so.

To pause a bit on how technologies evolve over time, let's look at an elegant concept, the 'S' curve. What this simply says is that each technology has an initial period during which it grows very slowly. As it improves and gains use, it crosses a 'turning point', beyond which growth takes off quickly ***. Further down, technology reaches a stage of maturity where growth returns to loosen. The Metcalfe Law, which argues that the utility of something increases exponentially with the number of its users, is applied during the high growth section.