Over on almost a diary, I’ve recently mentionend a survey of German blogging called “Weblogs 2005 – Bloggen im deutschsprachigen Raum”, conducted by Jan Schmidt at the University of Bamberg. While the German blogger himself is a relatively unknown species to date, the relatively small size of the German blogosphere as a whole has been observed with some interest for a while now, particularly when compared to the French blogosphere, and the amount of attention blogs have suddenly gained in the so called German mainstream media. It’s one of the eternal questions of humanity asked a new variant: Does size matter?
Size may well matter in this case as in others, but here’s another interesting question: Does relative size matter?
If you look at Wikipedia’s main page, you will notice that, using an article per capita measure, the teutonic part of the free encyclopedia is holding up very well not just in comparison to the anglosphere challenge, but also with respect to la francophonie (about 1.3 times).
Assuming for the moment that both blogging and writing for Wikipedia means participating in some kind of digital civil society, do the different relative sizes of the respective elements thereof tell us something about the people behind the ventures?
Could it be that Germans are more interested in participating in something with a more authoritative, slightly more hierarchical, aura than the blogosphere, where the laws of information markets determine reputation, pseudo-link-list-authority, success and failure, and everything is very much evolutionary, sometimes even in the short run? Could it be that the French are displaying an unexpected, and hertofore unknown taste for said market forces?
I’m not sure, but it seems, just as contemporary forms of dating have apaprently enabled social scientists to gain a new level of understanding concerning the rules determining human mating ( you may not like it – from Zeit Wissen, in German), mass participation in the digital public discourse could provide previously impossible insights into national discoursive preferences.