Friday, November 09, 2007

My Lamentable Spandrels

According to an article in this morning's Guardian, a survey has shown that there are 4 million bloggers in Britain alone. Like all such surveys it is based on some rather "iffy" sampling techniques. 2,000 Internet users where questioned about their on-line habits and 15% of them admitted to keeping a blog. Apply such a ratio to the 26 million people in Britain who are supposed to use the Internet and you get 4 million bloggers.

So what do the 4 million British bloggers write about? If you use this blog as an example then the answer must be that we write about people writing blogs. In that case the great blogosphere is nothing more than the kind of endless illusion you get when you look in a mirror at yourself holding up a mirror.

Convinced that blogging was more than technologically mature navel-gazing, I instigated my own survey based on the highly scientific "next" button. If you look towards the top of any Blogger Blog there is a small button labelled "next" which will take you to a randomised blog. A good way to get an idea of what people blog about is simply to press the "next" button repeatedly and note where you get to. My small survey this morning took me to five random blogs. So here it is, the definitive answer to the question, "what do people blog about?".

1. Making Money
"Earn $27 in less than a hour and over $100 in a week" declares the
first of my random blogs. It is full of nothing but invitations to click on commercial websites or fill-in fake surveys for which the person running the blog gets a small cut of the profits I presume. This is to blogging what Exchange and Mart is to quality journalism.

2. The Civil War In Florida
I am glad that the random "next" button sent me to
this site because it epitomises all that the Internet and blogging is about : esotericism. The blog - which is run by the American historian Dale Cox, is dedicated to the study of the American Civil War in Florida. It's a subject I have never given a second thought to - until today. I spent a fascinating half hour reading through the postings. Wonderful stuff.

3. Machete Blows To The Conscience
The third blog is in a language that appears to be Portuguese. It serves to remind us that the Internet and blogging is a global phenomenon and that whilst English might be the dominant language it is not the only one. I tried entering a sample of the text into an on-line translation system with the following results. Make of it what you will!
"It has a girl crying in cômodo to the side. I hear its sultry soluços transposing the bricks of the wall and supplying my spandrels with lamentations and my chest, anguish. It soluça. E beating of its soluço aches me as small machete blows in the conscience. It has this girl of cômodo of the side. It seems that it is opening drawers, I know there. It will be that it is thinking about leaving by this time? It will be? It there and I here. It there committing its small acts of insanity, for guilt of a sad end and I, here lying on of one edredom on the frozen soil".

4. Homework
The fourth blog is rather intriguing. It is entitled
7th Grade Homework blog and appears to be a list of tasks set by teachers in an un-named school for their students. One example is a message from Mr Little, as follows -
"Wednesday: Write 1 paragraph answering this question: "Who was really the first people/person to America?" Use 3 facts, and use the "Before Columbus..." activity and WS as the backbone of your thought. Students absent should e-mail me for this copy!"
OK Mr Little, I will have a go at the task and post it to my blog. Anyone else can join in the game.

5. Pictures of Tomas

The final blog in my selection consists of a series of pictures taken on a mobile phone of a young lad who appears to be named Tomas. Granted that he is a cheery little soul, but perhaps there really are some things which are kept private. One of the pictures seems to show the little chap hovering above a swimming pool. How interesting.

So, there we are. That is what people are bloggong about at the moment. Don't know about you, but it makes my spandrels ache.

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