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Who shakes and shapes the blogging field?

Remember when all of South Africa was united in a shared spirit of triumph and optimism, when the old guard was one with the new revolutionaries? That was 1995, and South Africa was on its way to winning the rugby World Cup and the football African Nations Cup. It was a great time to be a sports fan, and a great time to be a South African.

The spirit was summed up in the new nickname given to the SA rugby team: the “amabokoboko”, a very politically correct way to refer to the very politically incorrect “springboks”.

Blogging may not capture that same spirit – quite the opposite, given how seriously bloggers take themselves – but there is something happening in South Africa that reveals a new embrace of the Internet and a blossoming of online communication and social networking.

Facebook is the most obvious symptom of this: let the record show, as they say in legal arguments, that South Africa represents the third biggest regional network on Facebook outside of the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. The two others that are ahead of us are Norway and Australia. Oh well, at least we can beat them both at rugby.

Here are the Facebook statistics for members of regional networks at the time of writing:

1. USA: Bloody huge
2. UK: Pretty huge
3. Canada: Huge

All of the above are in the millions.

4. Norway: 308,000
5. Australia: 226,000
6. South Africa: 193,000

The SA figure will have passed the 200,000 mark before the middle of August, having doubled in six weeks. Something is happening here, and it is happening of its own volition. In the blogging world (I won’t say blogosphere: it was recently voted the most disliked IT buzzword of the year), the numbers are also astonishing, although global comparisons are not possible.

Approximately 1100 South African blogs are linked to amatomu, the blogging tracker and aggregator created by Matthew Buckland and Vincent Maher at the Mail & Guardian Online. Of these, 80% are updated more than once a week, and five to ten new blogs link up every day (thanks to Mr Amatomu, Vincent Maher, for those stats). This means that, by the end of August, there will be more than a thousand active blogs in South Africa.

Someone has to take the blame, so this blog will be focused on placing the blame. It will attempt to reveal, uncover and cover the identities and activities of individuals and organisations responsible for the emergence of social media (in which falls blogging) and social networking into the mainstream. The individuals will become members of the Amablogoblogo, whether they like it or not. The blog will also track relevant or interesting trends in this regard, and use both the trends and the individuals to give context to social media in South Africa.

For now, only two people are disqualified from membership of the Amablogoblogo team, namely Matthew Buckland and Vincent Maher, as they are clearly using performance enhancing substances. However, seeing they made this forum possible, they are hereby appointed, respectively, Physical Coach and Technical Coach of the Amablogoblogo. The rest of the team will grow over time as this blog evolves.

Nominations to the Amablogoblogo first team are welcomed. Comment here or e-mail me on [email protected]

Author

  • Arthur Goldstuck is a South African journalist, media analyst and commentator on information and communications technology (ICT), internet and mobile communications and technologies. Goldstuck heads the World Wide Worx research organisation, and has led research into ICT issues such as the effects of IT on small business, the role of mobile technologies in business and government, and the technology challenges of the financial services sector. He regularly provides strategic insights and guidance on trends at conferences and corporate events across Africa.

4 Comments

  1. Chris Roper Chris Roper 20 August 2007

    “This means that, by the end of August, there will be more than a thousand active blogs in South Africa.”

    There are 800 active blogs on 24.com and MWEB right now, using your definition of updated at least once a week. Methinks you need to look a little more broadly for your stats.
    [Just checked again – actually 713 active blogs this week.]

  2. Art2 Art2 20 August 2007

    At the time of writing (it’s always an idea to check the datestamp on a posting before commenting on it) I counted 550 blogs in total on the 24.com site, of which a high proportion were not updated regularly. On the MWEB blogging site, a high proportion were in fact blanks or gibberish.

    A second thing to bear in mind is that the number of blogs produced in SA is increasing exponentially by the week. It would therefore not be advisable, for example, to count the hundreds that came online in the past two weeks as adding to the regularly updated blogs. A month from now, most of those will be ghost blogs.

    Thirdly, it is always advisable to err on the conservative side in suggesting growth trends (you cannot possibly dignify a throwaway line with the term “stats”) for an emergent phenomenon. One could only damage the image of blogging by making too extravagant claims for it. But methinks somebody is just nitpicking.

  3. Chris Roper Chris Roper 20 August 2007

    Fair enough. Interestingly, we have a large number of bloggers who update only once every couple of weeks. I wouldn’t call those active blogs, by my standards, and yet they’re not dead. Wonder if we need another term for them. Stutterblogs or something. If you’d like stats on MWEB or 24.com blogs in future, we can pull those for you. We’re on about 6000 blogs now, but with only about a 1000 that are updated every couple weeks or so. I’m wondering what makes someone carry on blogging, whereas another person will quit after a couple of entries. I guess the easy answer is nobody comments on them, so they get discouraged.

  4. Art2 Art2 21 August 2007

    I call them one-time blogs, which is just another way of describing one-thought blogs. Many people have a great idea for a blog, but it turns out that the idea turned out to be a single thought. As good as it was, it was only good enough for one blog entry, and after that the blog lost its reason to live. I’ve started at least four of those every year for the last five years. Lack of comment is definitely a prime demotivator for most bloggers, and the problem is that a one-time blog is hardly going to excite the currents of the blogosphere.

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