The blogosphere is made up of all blogs and their interconnections. The term implies that blogs exist together as a connected community (or as a collection of connected communities) or as a social networking service in which everyday authors can publish their opinions. Since the term has been coined, it has been referenced in a number of media and is also used to refer to the Internet.
The term was coined on September 10, 1999 by Brad L. Graham, as a joke. It was re-coined in 2002 by William Quick, and was quickly adopted and propagated by the warblog community. The term resembles the older word logosphere (from Greek logos meaning word, and sphere, interpreted as world), "the world of words", the universe of discourse.
Despite the term's humorous intent, CNN, the BBC, and National Public Radio's programs Morning Edition, Day To Day, and All Things Considered have used it several times to discuss public opinion. A number of media outlets in recent years have started treating the blogosphere as a gauge of public opinion, and it has been cited in both academic and non-academic work as evidence of rising or falling resistance to globalization, voter fatigue, and many other phenomena, and also in reference to identifying influential bloggers and "familiar strangers" in the blogosphere.
In 1999, Pyra Labs opened blogging to the masses by simplifying the process of creating and maintaining personal web spaces. Prior to the creation of Pyra’s “Blogger,” the number of blogs in existence was thought to be less than one hundred. In 2005 a Gallup poll showed that a third of Internet users read blogs at least on occasion, and in May 2006 a study showed that there were over forty-two millions bloggers contributing to the blogosphere. With less than 1 million blogs in existence at the start of 2003, the number of blogs had doubled in size every six months through 2006.
In 2011 it was estimated that there are more than 158 million identified blogs, with more than 1 million new posts being produced by the blogosphere each day.
In a 2010 Technorati study, 36% of bloggers reported some sort of income from their blogs, most often in the form of ad revenue. This shows a steady increase from their 2009 report, in which 28% of the blogging world reported their blog as a source of income, with the mean annual income from advertisements at $42,548. Other common sources of blog-related income are paid speaking engagements and paid postings. Paid postings may be subject to rules on clearly disclosing commercial advertisements as such (regulated by, for example, the Federal Trade Commission in the US and the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK).
Sites such as Technorati, BlogPulse and Tailrank track the interconnections between bloggers. Taking advantage of hypertext links which act as markers for the subjects the bloggers are discussing, these sites can follow a piece of conversation as it moves from blog to blog. These also can help information researchers study how fast a meme spreads through the blogosphere, to determine which sites are the most important for gaining early recognition. Sites also exist to track specific blogospheres, such as those related by a certain genre, culture, subject matter or geopolitical location.
Mapping the blogosphere
In 2007, following six weeks of observation, social media expert Matthew Hurst mapped the blogosphere, generating the plot to the left based on the interconnections between blogs. The most densely populated areas represent the most active portions of the blogosphere. White dots represent individual blogs. They are sized according to the number of links surrounding that particular blog. Links are plotted in both green and blue, with green representing one-way links and blue representing reciprocal links.
DISCOVER Magazine described six major 'hot spots' of the blogosphere. While points 1 and 2 represent influential individual blogs, point 3 is the perfect example of "blogging island," where individual blogs are highly connected within a sub-community but lack many connections to the larger blogosphere. Point 4 describes a sociopolitical blogging niche, in which links demonstrate the constant dialogue between bloggers who write about the same subject of interest. Point 5 is an isolated sub-community of blogs dedicated to the world of pornography. Lastly, point 6 represents a collection of sports' lovers who largely segregate themselves but still manage to link back to the higher traffic blogs toward the center of the blogosphere.
With the outstanding growth of the blogosphere within the past decade, the blogosphere has developed as its own network of interconnections. In this time, bloggers have similarly begun to engage in other online communities, specifically social networking sites, melding the two realms of social media together.
According to Technorati's 2010 "State of Blogosphere" report, 78% of bloggers are using Twitter, with much larger percentages of individuals who blog as part-time jobs (88%) or who blog full-time for a specific company (88%) using "the microblogging service." Almost half of all bloggers surveyed use Twitter to interact with the readers of their blog, while 72% of bloggers use Twitter for blog promotion. For bloggers whose blog is their business (self-employed), 63% use Twitter to market their business. Additionally, according to the report, almost 9 out of 10 (87%) bloggers currently use Facebook.
Within the blogosphere, several sub-communities have developed. These communities are largely divided by genre. Blogs are often identified by a specific genre or topic, such as travel or politics.
- News blogs have become so popular, they have created steep competition for traditional print newspaper and news magazines. The Huffington Post, ranked most powerful blog in the world by The Observer in 2008, has become the go-to for breaking news for people around the world. It is only one of the many news blogs (often attached to printed publications) that have come to dominate current event reporting.
- Political blogs are often tied to a large media or news corporation, such as "The Caucus" (affiliated with The New York Times), "CNN Political Ticker", and the National Review's "The Corner."
- Gossip blogs are also a particular niche that has grown extensively with the development of the blogosphere. This movement can greatly be attributed to the popularity of Perez Hilton, a celebrity and entertainment media gossip blogger. His blog posts tabloid photographs of celebrities, accompanied by captions and comments. Web traffic to the often controversial and raunchy Perez Hilton site skyrocketed in 2005, prompting similar gossip blogs, such as TMZ.com, Jezebel, and the Superficial, to gain popularity.
- Food blogs allow foodies and aspiring chefs alike to share recipes, cooking techniques, and food porn, for others to enjoy. Food blogs such as 101 Cookbooks, Smitten Kitchen, and Simply Recipes serve as a sort of online cookbook for followers, often containing restaurant critiques, product reviews, and step-by-step photography for recipes.
- Fashion blogs also became their own larger than life sub-community following the explosive growth of the blogosphere. Fashion-conscious consumers are offered an insider's view into the fashion industry thanks to blogs like Racked, The Cut, and Fashionista. Besides fashion news blogs, street style blogs have also become exceedingly popular. Bloggers like Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist), Tommy Ton (Jak and Jil), Jane Aldridge (Sea of Shoes), Bryan Grey-Yambao (Bryanboy), and Tavi Gevinson (Style Rookie) are all among a not-so-select group of fashion bloggers who now consider updating their blog a full-time job. These style mavens are able to earn considerable livings through advertising, selling their photos and even providing their services as photographers, stylists, and guest designers.
- Health blogs cover health topics, events and/or related content of the health industry and the general community. A health blog can cover diverse health related concerns such as nutrition and diet, fitness, weight control, diseases, disease management, societal trends affecting health, analysis about health, business of health and health research.
- Scientific blogs cover different scientific and mathematical topics. Some of these are written by leading researchers, others by interested laymen. These are often free to access and thus provide an alternative to pay walled scientific literature.
- Genealogy blogs cover a variety of topics related to genealogy and family history, including the genealogy industry, genealogy software and technology, as well as educational “how to” posts related to specific research areas. Leading blogs include Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, DearMYRTLE and GeneaBloggers.
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- Axelrod, Laura (January 4, 2010). "Brad L. Graham, coined the term 'blogosphere,' dies at 41". The Birmingham News. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
- DailyPundit.com (via Internet Archive)
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- "Sphere." English for Students. http://www.english-for-students.com/sphere.html
- Blogosphere: The new political arena, Michael Keren, 2006.
- Nitin Agarwal, Huan Liu, Lei Tang, and Philip Yu. "Identifying Influential Bloggers in a Community", First International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining (WSDM08), February 11–12, Stanford, California.
- Nitin Agarwal, Huan Liu, John Salerno, and Philip Yu. "Searching for 'Familiar Strangers' on Blogosphere: Problems and Challenges", NSF Symposium on Next-Generation Data Mining and Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation. October 10–12, Baltimore, MD.
- Nitin Agarwal, Huan Liu, Sudheendra Murthy, Arunabha Sen, and Xufei Wang. "A Social Identity Approach to Identify Familiar Strangers in a Social Network", 3rd Int'l AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, May 17–20, 2009, San Jose, California.
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- Blogpulse. Retrieved September 28, 2011 http://www.blogpulse.com/.
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- Investigating the Impact of the Blogosphere: Using PageRank to Determine the Distribution of Attention, Kirchhoff, Bruns & Nicolai, 2007.
- Ornes, S. (2007). Welcome to the blogosphere. DISCOVER Magazine. Retrieved October 3, 2011, from http://discovermagazine.com/2007/may/map-welcome-to-the-blogosphere
- Aldred, Jessica (2008-03-09). "The world's 50 most powerful blogs". London: Observer. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
- The designation itself is mentioned in, among others, Gray, Tyler (2006-09-28). "Pop goes Perez: How a pudgy Miami poseur became gossip's new queen". Radar Online. Retrieved 2007-02-1
- Top 100 Genealogy Websites for 2014. GenealogyInTime Magazine. Retrieved July 16, 2014, from http://www.genealogyintime.com/articles/top-100-genealogy-websites-of-2014-page02.html
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