Dear Heather Green, Don’t fall into the reporter-math trap

Heather, you know I am one of your biggest fans. When I talk about magazine writers who know how to use a blog with finesse, you are my go-to example. So please don’t take this personally. However, when you start playing with charts and graphs of Technorati data and start quoting Gartner analysts on your blog, I’m afraid you are using reporter-math to prop up an argument that the same data can disprove.

You write, “the data Sifry sent back seems to show that blogging growth is plateauing.” Actually, the data Sifry sent you doesn’t do that, but I’ll forgive you that “lede” as your post did include an admission that more data is necessary before drawing such a conclusion (although that’s buried in your post) and you did include (again, buried) the caveat there are others who suggest people may be “trying out other types of social media, including video, podcasts, and social networks” and that might effect the numbers.

I don’t have time now to explain my interpretation of the Technorati data, but will later, perhaps this weekend. However, in the meantime, I will point back to my three-year old post in which Paul Saffo explains macro-myopia. Secondly, the more important trend is “personal expression” platforms — not “blogging.” I could go on, but am walking into an all-day conference on, uh, the “economics of social media.”

  • Heather Green

    Heya Rex,

    Well, definitely let me know when you post. I thought I flagged my caveat pretty high by using the verb “seems” in the headline and in the first graph. Definitely, I think that the bigger trend is social media, which is why I wrote that one explanation for why folks aren’t piling onto to blogging so fast, and why they’re abandonning blogs once they set them up is that there are other forms of social expression that appeal to them more.

  • Rex Hammock

    Thanks. I just know how if it is “according to BusinessWeek,” the “blogging is plateauing” can spread with more authority. However, it’s important for someone to have your understanding of the nuance of what “blogging” means for people to truly understand that “blogging” is merely a facet of a bigger thing that is taking place — and that “thing” is not plateauing.

  • Heather Green

    Hmmm. Thanks. I hadn’t read it that way at all. Thanks for taking the time to point it out. I’ll clarify that in my post, because that’s not at all what I meant.