Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forJune 9th, 2004 | back to home

9 June 2004

The 4290 inhabitants of a bunch of really isolated islands off the coast of Scotland were given computers and Internet access through some government programme. Then a few months later the BBC turned up and tried to encourage them to produce weblogs.

Well, after a couple of ill-attended meetings and promotion in the local media, altogether 72 people had created blogs by the end of six months (of those, only eight have been “updated within the last week”:http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/whereilive/westernhighlandsandislands/islandblogging/bloggers/). Of course part of the relatively low takeup might be to do with the fact that the BBC blogs were hosted by the BBC and were pre-moderated – you’d post something and it would take a day to be approved! Not surprisingly (since these people live in pretty close contact with their neighbours) none of the weblogs tried to be controversial in their communities or political – instead they tended to concentrate on mundane day to day community events.

I spoke to the man from the BBC (Richard Holmes) after his presentation at “NotCon”:http://www.notcon04.com/ and he said that some of the community leaders on the island did take up blogging early on but abandoned it and that those who kept blogging were a cross-section of the community. I hope some more in-depth studies have been done on this experiment and I will be interested to see how many of the people who were started off blogging carry on doing it once the BBC stops the experiment (due to finish this month).

It’s interesting to me that even with 100% access and encouragement in the end only .1% of the islands’ population ended up blogging regularly. I wish I had been there to gather some ethnographic detail that would explain why (though I have a few guesses).