Why aren't the Irish blogging?

I saw an article on Loic Le Muer’s blog about the numbers of French people blogging – it is estimated that up to 5% of French people have a blog. This compares very favourably with the US where it is estimated that around 3% of the population have a blog.

Now, if we look at the Irish situation, the Irish Blogosphere figures – it would appear that we have at best around 9000 blogs here. If we divide that by the figure for our national population (take a low 4m as the figure – that is a very conservative figure as it excludes the 6 counties of Northern Ireland), it would appear that only around 0.225% of Ireland’s population are blogging.

We have a young, educated, technophile population and a culture of storytelling – surely we are naturals for blogging.

Anyone care to guess why the numbers of Irish bloggers are so low?

It is probably no coincidence that Ireland is ranked 27th out of 30 OECD countries for price of broadband whereas France is second cheapest (with an average connection price of 14.90 euro per month for an 8mb connection – yes 8mb!).

20 thoughts on “Why aren't the Irish blogging?”

  1. I wonder…
    you post a lot about the benefits to businesses of blogging, but what are the motivations/benefits for personal blogging?

    I would say, and this is pure conjecture, that the Irish are quite guarded when it comes to personal and emotional issues… putting our inner-most thoughts on the interweb for all to see is something I just can’t see as appealing to us as a nation.

    Also, as we’re still quite parochial any reservations about sharing are magnified by the fact that achieving anonymity is quite difficult.

    Them over there on the continent are known for being a bit more up front. Sure, they hold hands in public and everything.

    Keep your cards close to your chest, you know?

    😉

  2. but what are the motivations/benefits for personal blogging?

    That’s a hard one to answer Frank – I think there is some inbuilt desire in people to document their existence – people have been writing diaries and the like for millennia.

    The Irish are reserved, to be sure, but Britain has 1.4% of its population blogging and they are far more reserved than us.

    I’m sure our reserve is a factor, but on the other hand, we are famous as writers, as well…

  3. 9k? where? how? and what’s irish? the diaspora or people actually in ireland? and even looking at the 500 blogs listed on planet of the blogs, how many of them are actually active?

    there is a tiny, tiny, tiny blogging community in this country (and i’m not even sure it’s fair to call it a community, it’s more a group of diverse people doing something similar, with a very, very loose community spirit). who actually reads blogs? pew internet research tends to support the view that blogs have two audiences – other bloggers, and the media. beyond those two, the majority don’t even know blogs exist, or how to find them. or whether they have any value at all.

    you can use the stats to support any thesis you want – that broadband is the limiting factor, that we’re all spending too much time getting bladdered to be writing blogs, that we’re all too reserved to blog. but the raw stats (even when they’re in reality mostly just numbers plucked out of the air) are pretty meaningless. you can even use them to argue that they merely support the view that there’s too much hot air being blown about blogging.

  4. The 9000 figure is a bit on the optimistic side. A figure around 2000 might be more accurate but I don’t think that it would really get much beyond 300 in terms of continually active Irish blogs. It seemed that for a while blogs were the accessory for the people who read the mainstream media technology pages but that buzz has worn off now.

    As for the French figures, the same argument applies only moreso.

  5. Fergal and John,

    I agree that the 9k figure seems high – however, I suspect (as John also mentioned) that the other countries results are out by a similar factor so the accuracy of the 9k figure is moot.

    The question is why are we blogging so much less than our neighbours relatively speaking.

    Maybe Lee is right and it is more cultural than economic but I find it strange that the country with one of the cheapest broadband rates, has the most bloggers while we have one of the most expensive broadband rates and a very low rate of blogging – coincidence, possibly.

    Maybe Eircom will read this post and slash the rates just to see if the rate of blogging increases.

    😉

  6. It’s hard to say why people do things differently from one culture to another. Although usage of the ‘net had increased and will continue to increase over time there are marked differences between the way people interact.
    If you were to draw comparisons between France, Spain and Italy, for example it might be comparable, as they share some level of cultural background. Comparing Ireland to France, however, is not going to give you reasonable results.
    What about Ireland vs UK? That would be interesting.

    Just my random 2 cents as I sit here melting 🙂

  7. What about Ireland vs UK? That would be interesting.

    I did that in my first comment Michele:

    The Irish are reserved, to be sure, but Britain has 1.4% of its population blogging and they are far more reserved than us

    1.4% in Britain vs. 0.225% here.

  8. You have to accept your stereotype: you’re more natural while communicating in a bar – you don’t NEED a blog to tell the world what you are thinking! Some friends (or acquaintances, or co-workers, or passerbys or complete strangers), a pint of Guinness and a dram of Connemara and there’s no need for WordPress, Technorati or that other stuff…

    (Been in the local Irish Pub last night with business visitors from the UK, Denmark, Chech and Germany – it was fun and we haven’t left until 1am)

  9. Probably a combination of a lot of different things with broadband being a contributor. Blogging is a slow process and can be laborious for some. Blog entries can be quickly thrown together by some and slowly put together by others. Depending on my mood I can throw something together in seconds or write off the top of my head or there are entries where I’ll think, do some research, go away and come back a few hours later and write my entry.

    You really need an always-on product for such things and people in Ireland are not used to being always-on and for many still in dial-upland (50% of the population still can’t get BB) they are forever watching the clock. This environment does not foster blogging.

  10. I would echo the fear & inertia concerns – my missus is a communications manager in a large international organisation, and I’ve been trying to get her to think about blogs as a means of disseminating company-internal information. Her I.S. dept baulks at the notion though, citing security as the main problem – what if competitors get access to the data? I would have thought that security would be reasonably easy to look after. Is it?

    On a tangent, I tired persuading my own company (currently about 25 souls) to start using a wiki for collaborative efforts, but it was suggested to me that certain individuals wouldn’t play fair and would commandeer the wiki for their own personal ends. What a load of old codswallop.

  11. I would have thought that security would be reasonably easy to look after. Is it?

    Hugh, yes, security should be easily looked after – as long as the blog is on the company intranet, on the internal company network, then it should be perfectly secure. The easiest way for a competitor to gain access to this information is to slip a couple of thousand euro to an employee – far easier than hacking!

    I’d be happy to talk to your wife’s company about the benefits to them of blogging (that’s what I do) – the benefits would far outweigh any security concerns

  12. I disagree with Mulley’s statements there about us in dialup-land. I’m still on dialup and still manage to run two blogs (09-15-00 which is my indie music blog and theirishliberal which is well, you can guess) though I must say tht I’ve not been able to post full time at all in fact and am only properly getting to post in the last month or so. And as for Irish blogging in general, I’m 18 years old and heading into sixth year in Secondary school and can honestly say that NONE of my friends either blog or know blogs exist. Too many other things to do apart from sitting in front of a PC screen.

  13. Graeme,

    thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    Personally I agree with Damien that rollout of broadband is important for blogging to take off. In your own comment you say you are only getting to properly post in the last month or so.

    With the rollout of broadband, Internet access is no longer a barrier – you don’t have to dial up – you have access, so it is one less barrier. Plus the online experience is not as frustrating.

    I firmly believe broadband rollout is essential (for blogs to take off) in Ireland.

  14. This assumes that all bloggers make their location readily available, though. Maybe Irish bloggers are just less likely to identify as being Irish? After all, a blogger from the US listing his/her location as ‘USA’ is still guaranteed a certain amount of privacy/anonymity if he wants… whereas ‘Ireland’ as a location is a tad smaller and, let’s face it, everyone seems to know everyone else. If anonymity is a factor (albeit it only to a certain extent, depending on the content of what you’re writing, of course) in blogging then the label of ‘from Ireland’ is much more of an obvious identifier than ‘from the UK’, ‘from France’, ‘from the USA’ etc.

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