Why are there so few UK bloggers?

Revisiting one of the points raised yesterday – why are there so few British bloggers? As revealed by The Blog Herald and Loic’s European Blogging wiki, the UK is lagging behind France in blog adoption (900,000 v 3m).

I’m not sure of the reason for this. The numbers themselves are hard to confirm since many UK bloggers will be using US hosted blog services like Typepad and Blogger, so are wrapped up in the US stats. But even so, a show of hands yesterday revealed less than 5 of the 80 people there were bloggers. And this was at an event about blogging.

Britain has a competitive and vibrant news culture, so there is a thirst for news which you would expect could be satisfied by blogs. Literacy rates are high, as is Internet adoption. Brits have no fear in adopting new technologies to communicate, as we’ve seen with the widespread take-up of text-messaging (SMS).

The ingredients all seem to be there, but blogging has yet to enter the mass consciousness in a way it has done in France or the US. I’m not aware of any major newspaper running with blogs on the front page as we’ve had in both the latter markets. The BBC even ran a news piece about the low awareness of blogging recently, following a survey of traditional networkers like hairdressers, taxi drivers and pub landlords:

Even among parts of the population classified as “early adopters”, knowledge of blogs was scarce. Two out of three men, two out of three 16-24 year-olds, and two out of three single people hadn’t heard of them. Having internet access also appeared to make little difference: two out of three people with internet access didn’t know what they were.

It’s clearly a cultural issue. Perhaps the stereotypical British reserve prevents UK citizens from sharing their thoughts and opinions, in exactly the same in which French citizens like to express them frequently. I think there is also still a slightly nerdy stigma associated with blogging. It’s for geeks and a bit uncool. Do bloggers queue up with trainspotters when it comes to street cred?

The UK blogosphere is still small enough to be unusual and a bit ‘odd’. As we move down the adoption curve, I think perceptions will change.

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