We haven’t had a chance to closely review this Pew report, which was released today, but you might. Some tidbits:
“They are going online to get information about the war, to learn and share differing opinions about the conflict, to send and receive emails where they ponder events, express their views and offer prayers. In addition, a smaller portion of Internet users are using email to mobilize others and gain support for their views about the conflict...”
“Our first soundings on the subject show that blogs are gaining a following among a small number of Internet users, but they are not yet a source of news and commentary for the majority of Internet users...”
One interesting note: “Internet users are more likely than non-users to support the war and to support the way President Bush is conducting the war.”
Added April 2, 2002: Download PDF of questionnaire
That last item, “on politics” is particularly suspect and either shows the tremendous failing of these micro-sample bogus surveys or it shows an ulterior propaganda in the design of the survey. I might accept this as true among /American/ internet users, but globally? Hardly seems possible to even measure, and certainly doesn’t agree with casual observation.
Take any term which has a community of interest, say “Iraq” and ask google; if blogs are “not yet a source of news” then why pray tell do they rate so high in the google juice?
My guess is either they asked an extremely slanted demographic, or they’ve measured a white middleclass male geek bias in their random sample. Either way, it’s about as informative as that survey that asked visitors to rate “the most dangerous country” of which 84% said the USA.
I was surprised that, despite all the media attention, blogs are only getting a sliver of the American online audience (4%). Just last night Glenn Reynolds was on CNN talking about war coverage and blogs. If the topic of blogs is getting attention on CNN and other media outlets shouldn’t that influence numbers in these surveys?
This conflict in particular seems well suited to the sense-maiking, filtering and commentary that the bloging paradigm can provide.
Perhaps, a follow-up survey is needed.
fyi: an interesting blog on the reynolds appearance on CNN at yourish.com