And the useless survey says

And the useless survey says: 
Longtime readers of this weblog know I used to rant continuously about
how reporters should never be trusted when they try to interpret research results (it
being common knowledge that most reporters did everything possible to avoid
statistics courses in college
). However, I’m beginning to believe the
problem is not the interpretation, but the the actual surveys
themselves. Surveys  about blogging from CNN/et al, Pew, Columbia University, Perseus
are beginning to remind me of those surveys from the late 1990s that
would come out
every few months reporting, “only 10% of American households have
Internet
access”; to be followed a few months later with “only 20%,” then “30%”
and then one day it became, “only 10% of Americans have broadband
connections to the Internet.”

Research about who today uses (or doesn’t use) blogs or who is influenced (whatever that means) by blogs (and you can
extend this
to all community-created and user-controlled media) is meaningless in
my opinion (especially, if you are limiting your understanding of the
surveys to what reporters write about them). When you live through
something historic, there is always the temptation to hang significance
on some fluttering occurence (like a survey). That’s especially true if you
are not actually participating in the historic event, but merely
running a research study on it, or, worse, writing about the research
someone else is doing.

As
I said, last week I asked about a dozen CEOs of business-to-business
media companies how many of them view online news via an RSS newsreader
and it appeared to me that about 20% of them said they did. At least 40% of them appeared confused by the
question. And one started calling it “push technology.” So what? It’s
meaningless research as I know from experience that within a year or
two, 100% of those people will probably be reading RSS feeds on their
Treos and several of their companies will have figured out how to make
lots of money from generating RSS feeds (some already have, no doubt).

Bottom line: If you are reading these words on a blog, better yet, if
you are reading these words via an RSS feed on a newsreader, you should
be happy these surveys reveal such a small percentage of the general
population are doing what you are doing. Stop kicking yourself for
discovering blogs and RSS a few months ago. Guess what, you’re
so leading edge it’s astounding! Congratulations you trend-setter.