A recent survey (covered in a number of news sources, see USA Today version here) makes the ground-breaking observation that teenagers use blogs not as a public forum so much as a social tool. This comes as no surprise to me, as I began blogging in this manner a number of years ago. Such is the advantage of being my age I suppose. I know about teen life because it wasn’t so long ago I was one (if a nerdy and not particularly popular one). If only I knew this kind of material was noteworthy. I really need to start publishing this stuff someplace other than my blog with it’s ~15 faithful readers, because it seems that the news thinks these observations are interesting.
I think what is most interesting about this new information, though, is the ubiquity of teen blogs. When I started keeping a xanga about 4 years ago there were only a few people I knew who kept blogs. I thought it was a little bit nerdy and kept it low-key (although I will admit that, like most writers, I have delusions of grandeur and huge audiences from time to time). Having an online presence was unusual and probably geeky at the time. Now, college freshman are weird who DON’T have online identities in xanga or facebook or myspace or something. Online society is an integral part of young society, and this has changed in a matter of only a few years.
This presents a problem for new media scholarship (which I have been considering): how do you make any meaningful generalizations that will not be obsolete by the time they go through a review process and arrive in published form? I think there are things that remain the same, but the internet changes at such a quick pace, it seems there are always new examples and new challenges to any theory of online communication.