Tuesday, April 18, 2006

You clever people...

Some scenery, last year

'Never underestimate your audience' is an old saying, and so for what is my 200th post on DUaB I thought I'd turn the tables and write something mildly puke-inducing about you lovely readers. In times gone by, diaries were something intensely private and to be protected - but these days any fool with a computer can knock something out and force themselves on the public, pretending to be a literary wit (works for me). And if you put pretty photos up, so much the better.

It goes without saying I appreciate everyone who reads and comments on here - and is one of the reasons I keep track of you all so closely (kudos to the visitor who found me by searching for 'funeral indoor eternal flame'. Apparently the link was a post I wrote about the war memorial under the Arc de Triomphe - which is maybe slightly out of their price range). But I'm sure you weren't aware that in visiting DUaB, you are proving yourselves to be in the top echelon of society? Yes - even you with the Pringles. When the A-Team invented the internet in the early 1990's, obscurity meant relatively few people had access to or understood it. Today however almost everybody has access to the internet, and even fewer people understand it. I know I don't.

But whereas in previous times people online weren't exactly at the forefront of society (apart from in the technological sense), it has now all changed. In a classic episode of The Simpsons - the one where Bart and Lisa start a kids' revolt against their annoying parents - when Lisa suggests they air their grievances on the internet, Bart says no - "We have to reach people who's opinions actually matter". Not any more. Ironically, their choice of medium - radio - seems recently to have rejuevated, and only because of the internet (online radio, podcasting etc).

But before this post sounds any more like a Media Studies essay, I point you to an article on today's Guardian website (Link), the headline of which is 'Ignore bloggers at your peril, say researchers'. A Technology company found Bloggers are exerting a "disproportionately large influence" on society, and are "increasingly dominating public conversations and creating business trends". Like Butter pies, for instance.

The author of the report - entitled 'An Army of Davids', went on to say "Bloggers and blog-readers are 'influentials' - the minority that pays attention to events outside of political and news cycles. They also tend on average to be better off, better educated and, more importantly, employed." So put down those Jaffa Cakes and pat yourself on the back, especially if you're reading this at work.

There are now more than 35m blogs around the world. 35 million. As the BBC notes - 'while most bloggers only write for small audiences, [I prefer 'exclusive'] 'they can sometimes achieve wider fame or become the focus of consumer campaigns'. A good case in point is the story of the Million Dollar Homepage, or more recently Kyle MacDonald's trading blog. MacDonald is a 26yr-old Canadian who found a large red paper clip, and offered it online in a trade for something else - with a view to eventually trading up enough to get a house. Well within a year, he managed it.

So it seems that if you have a computer and an idea, you can combine the two and make something serious happen. Or like me, you can simply waffle on about places you've been, pies, and Irn-Bru. And post pretty pictures. But then that's why you come back, right?