Friday, April 3, 2009
The Sociology of Blog Hits
Every time my son comes to peek at my blog over my shoulder he asks, "Can we look at your map?" He loves Clustrmaps. I agree with Paul Levy that it tends to grow less useful with time, but I can't help but enjoy the visual appeal of it.
My husband took a look not too long ago and remarked, "Look at your dot distribution."
"What about it?" I asked.
At first all I saw was a distribution of readers of English-language blogs: lots of dots in the United States, Europe, the Philippines, India, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
But when my husband started pointing out places where there were very few dots - notably almost the entire African continent, the cradle of humanity - a different picture struck me. Industrialized nations showed a plethora of dots; rising economic powers like Brazil had a moderate number of dots; and countries with struggling economies had few dots relative to the populations in those nations.
I checked out a couple of French-language blogs on Africa just to see if the overall picture was different, but it was disappointingly similar. The Clustrmap seemed to be a geopolitical snapshot that connected computer access, language proficiency, and blog-reading. Perhaps I am making too much of this, and it's attributable simply to a greater interest in blogs in Europe and North America?
We're living in the information age. Technology has connected the world more extensively than before, with faster-than-ever communication. Yet lots of people are still out of that loop, either by choice or by circumstance. Most of us can't imagine life without reading and writing, but the use of literacy to convey ideas rather than just information is a privilege we're fortunate to be able to enjoy. It's a sobering reminder that the opportunity and freedom to do all this pondering and blogging is a luxury, a gift.