Arite! This is the post I lost earlier thanks to Typepad. There is something about a forced re-write. It never sounds as good as the original post. But here it goes any way:
I wanted to talk about how as social media enthusiasts we always assume that people understand what we are going all nutts about. Take for instance a simple question I have been asking my friends -- " Do you know what RSS is?". To my surprise, many of them did not use RSS or any feed reader. Upon showing them what RSS can do one friend commented that she simply likes to "browse the Web" and RSS somehow boxes her.
Still, if Bloglines is any indicator there are a lot more people using feed readers. A study conducted in 2005 found that there were about 32,415 public subscribers and their feeds accounted for 1,059,140 public feed subscriptions. In 2006, we conducted a similar study and found that there were 82,428 users and 1,833,913 listed feeds they subscribed to. This dataset was also used to build the site "Feeds That Matter". In a long overdue attempt to revise the list, I ran another crawl of the Bloglines public directories. This time around, I found that there were about 209,125 users who subscribed to 1,875,027 feeds. Let us look at this data:
We find a significant increase in the number of people using Bloglines. There is a rise in popularity of feed readers, if Bloglines is any significant indicator. Next we look at the number of feeds:
Interestingly, even though the number of users significantly rose, the number of feeds are about constant.
Seen another way, here is a scatter plot of the above data (each dot corresponds to 2005, 2006 and 2008 respectively):
In my view, even though there may be 70 Million plus blogs, the ones that most people are willing to devote significant commitment in terms of adding them to their feed readers is actually around a Million or Two. I also think that the popularity of Twitter and FriendFeed around 2006-2007 time frame has changed how we find new information. Social filtering might work better for long tail content. This is only a hypothesis. It could just be an artifact of Bloglines. Moreover, Google Reader has a greater market share and perhaps FeedBurner has a more accurate measure of growth in feed readership.