Move Over English
Though I was at a conference, then deathly sick (note the use of hyperbole), when David Sifry came out with his State of the Blogosphere Part 2 — On Language and Tagging, think there is still important data here to get reported for the record. David’s ability to cut through information on the index of 37.3 million blogs to bring coherent thought to the table is a gift he shares several times a year and we should take advantage of it to get the big picture of how our lives are changing.
For this post, I choose to focus on the analysis of the language data.
He begins by offering a few disclaimers about the data set he’s about to offer. Three important caveats he reminds us to keep in the foreground when studying his data.
- First that the automated language software they use may not be perfect and my over- or undercount a particular language or group of languages, due to bugs wthin the software. He follows that comment with a statement that Technorati, however, still feels fairly confident in its reliability across the millions of blogs and posts they index each day.
- One part of the blogosphere, Mr. Sifry is certain that is being under-reported is posts and blogs written in Korean. This is due to the fact that the main services are not indexed by Technorati at this time. A second that is being undercounted to a lesser degree is French language blogs and posts, because Technorati has not yet got a good system for indexing skyblog.
- This third caveat is that Japanese bloggers write shorter posts. This could be due to their predilection to posting from mobile telephone. This fact could be skewing the results of the data that follows making the numbers higher, as the data tracks quantity of posts not length.
Within these caveats, Dave Sifry aso offers this invitation,
if anyone at these (or other) blogging services is interested in being indexed, please drop me a line.
Immediately following in the original State of the Blogosphere Post 2, you will find David’s usual visuals. Click on this one to take you there. I found these most compelling. They tell the big-picture story in one glance. Click on any one to get to the original post.
- The blogosphere is multilingual, and deeply international
- English, the language of early bloggers, has fallen to less than a third of all blog posts in April 2006.
- Japanese and Chinese language blogging has grown significantly.
- Chinese language blogging, while continuing to grow on an absolute basis, has begun to decline as an overall percentage of the posts that Technorati tracks over the last 6 months
- Japanese, Chinese, English, Spanish, Italian, Russian, French, Portuguese, Dutch, and German are the languages with the greatest number of posts tracked by Technorati. The Korean language is underrepresented in this analysis.
Language breakdown does not necessarily imply a particular country or regional breakdown.
Technorati now tracks more than 100 Million author-created tags and categories on blog posts.
Less than 1/3 of the blogosphere is in English. What does this mean? It means that Americans and other English speakers need to realize that English isn’t the only language on the planet, and businesses that are English dependent need to focus their efforts toward ensuring that our customer base will continue to be broad enough to serve customers well for the long run.
As the world gets smaller and more niche marketed, this does not seem a major problem for us. But it does pose a problem for our children, particularly as more businesses move onto the Internet.
I have experienced time in more than one culture in which I could not read; even the experience of choosing Successful and Outstanding Bloggers has made me work to find translations to ensure that the blogs I’m choosing aren’t saying things that, were they in English, I might find hurtful or embarrassing. Being unable to understand what the majority of people around you are saying is a frightening experience, especially when you have an urgent need.
To have no language with to communicate personally or in business is a scary problem. It’s also one that most English speakers have not had to consider to be real. It’s time we gave it some thought . . . if not for us, for our children.
We live in interesting times. Let us hope they don’t become too interesting. How does this information change the way you see the future for you brand, for your business . . . for your family?
–ME “Liz” Strauss