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The Vibrant Growth of the French Blogosphere

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The vibrant growth of the French blogosphere is something to behold. French is the second largest language and half of students in France blog.

This is due, in no small part, to Skyradio telling their listeners to Skyblog what they think at most commercial breaks — a multi-million dollar advertising investment from an MSM to make blogging cool. Effective, considering they have 1.5 million bloggers according to Pierre Bellanger’s presentation. Wonder what will happen when they begin podcasting.

I really enjoyed the contrast Jochen Wegner provided in his presentation on how Germany needs a second pope. Basically, nobody blogs in Germany despite their population and broadband penetration. He implied that there hadn’t been an event, or celebrity, or major marketing push to help it along. Could also be similar to when i asked Orkut why Estonia was the six most populous nationality on Orkut the a population the size of Skybloggers — he said one of his good friends was Estonian. Adoption happens from social networks of founders plus mass event exceptions.

One of the recurring conversations at Les Blogs, beyond metaphysical notions of what is a blog, is why doesn’t everybody have a blog? While lots of blog pundits are quick to agree that the real action isn’t blogs as publishing (aside: Doc’s presentation put the nail in content instead of conversation) — but chatter with friends that happens to be in the open. We have explored this as part of the network structure, demographics, interests, everything. Barak from 6A noted that focus groups show people consistently think of bloggers are people who are self-important and have too much time on their hands. My wife, who was outed as part of the community this week, and is my favorite focus group, agrees violently. And nobody gives a damn who has more traffic than who.

However, the reason I cringe when toolmakers says all the action is in the skinny part of the power law (uh, long tail) is that the toolmakers haven’t followed through. Two notable exceptions are LiveJournal and Flickr. We all know that social networking (especially as a filter) is due to merge with blogging. However, one consensus from insiders over the past week was that tool innovation significantly lags social practice. I’d suggest this is the focus of where toolmakers will catch up over the next year or so.

Caterina made some claims that not everyone has something to write, but all can take snapshots. All true, and the tech makes it dreadfully easy. Time-spread media like audio and video has a tougher time until editing is emergent. But people who use computers are generally literate enough to write letter to friends.

Back to the rest of the world. Not every country has a salon culture. Some are waiting for inflections of networks and mass. Many are oppressed and don’t have events to move their voices like Iran. Some still look for a third way like what I can’t wait to have emerge from countries like Korea.

The story at Les Blogs wasn’t some hot heads from the network core coming over to barf up panel sessions that have been heard before. It was the mix of cultures at a moment in time that expect a day when we all write what we really think through the web.

Ross Mayfield is CEO and co-founder of Socialtext, an emerging provider of Enterprise Social Software that dramatically increases group productivity and develops a group memory.

He also writes Ross Mayfield’s Weblog which focuses on markets, technology and musings.

The Vibrant Growth of the French Blogosphere
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