Kiwis top of international survey for blogging

By Eloise Gibson

A new study has revealed one in 13 New Zealanders has a weblog, making us the keenest bloggers out of 15 countries surveyed for a world research project.

Researchers at AUT University asked 1430 people about their internet use as part of the World internet Project, a California-run initiative that tracks how people around the world use the internet.

The survey, the first comprehensive study of New Zealanders' attitudes to the internet, found one in 10 internet users had a blog - about 8 per cent of the population.

The director of the World internet Project, Dr Jeffrey Cole, said New Zealand had the highest rate of bloggers out of any of the 15. The other country that rated highly for blogging was Japan.

Dr Cole said that although the global audience for blogs was "tiny", it was hugely important because it included other journalists working in traditional media who might pick up on a story and publish it.

Dr Cole said most blogs disappeared after about three months, when the blogger realised their online musings would not bring them fame and fortune. "Anyone can put their random thoughts up on the internet for the world to read, but the truth is, most people's random thoughts aren't that interesting." However, occasionally a great thinker or writer emerged who might otherwise not have been published.

Blogger Russell Brown, who runs the weblog community PublicAddress.net, said the ability to hide your identity on the internet meant people could share information they might not share in person.

In New Zealand, people identifying as Asian were the most likely to report having a blog, with 31 per cent of Asians blogging, compared with 12 per cent of Pasifika people, 6 per cent of Pakeha and 2 per cent of Maori. Most bloggers were under the age of 30.

Mr Brown said many young people saw blogging as a way to comment on their personal lives, rather than political or world issues. Some blogs would be maintained just for the blogger's friends, he said.

Dr Cole said New Zealand's internet use compared very well with other countries, with New Zealanders reporting the highest internet penetration of any country surveyed this year. The internet was rated above television, radio, newspapers and other people as a source of information.

One area in which New Zealand did poorly was broadband access. Out of 15 countries, New Zealand internet users reported the second highest percentage of people still relying on dial-up internet connections.

The AUT survey, which was carried out by phone late last year, found 78 per cent of New Zealanders used the internet. And while 25 per cent of Kiwis made friends online, those in their thirties were far more likely to meet up with their online friends than those in their teens - a statistic the director of the AUT survey, Allan Bell, said suggested the online safety message was getting through to internet-surfing teens.

Most internet users said the internet had increased their contact with family and friends, particularly those overseas. However 22 per cent said they now spent less face-to-face time with the family they lived with.

NZ ONLINE

Of the 78 per cent of New Zealanders who use the internet:
* 66 per cent have broadband.
* 77 per cent check their email every day.
* 28 per cent use social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.
* 25 per cent have made a friend online, and half of those have gone on to meet an online friend in person.
* 13 per cent maintain their own website.
* 10 per cent have a blog.

- NZ Herald

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