I was reflecting on my last blog post about opportunities provided by new media and whether or not the Welsh language was taking advantage of these opportunities, and this led me to wonder how many Welsh language blogs we would expect there to be, and how many there actually are. So I set out to do some estimates…
According to the Oxford Internet Institute’s The Internet in Britain 2009 report (pdf 1.9MB) 22% of people in Britain aged 14+ write a blog.
Messing about rather crudely with figures from the Welsh Language Board’s The Welsh Language Use Surveys of 2004-06 report (pdf) I arrive at a figure of 273,646 Welsh speakers aged 14+ who describe the extent to which they can write Welsh as “very well” or “well”.
Now these numbers are somewhat rough around the edges and the time periods don’t match – but if we assumed that 22% of these Welsh speakers were blogging, that would suggest they would create somewhere in the region of 60,200 blogs. If we use the 2005 figure for blogging in Britain (17%) that would suggest somewhere in the region of 46,500 blogs.
So how many Welsh language blogs are there? Well, I would put a hugely optimistic top figure of 200, including blogs produced by learners, people from overseas, blogs which are pretty much inactive and so on. If we are talking about blogs produced from within Wales, written “well” or “very well” in Welsh and updated at least every couple of months, I would be surprised if there were more than 100.
Whichever way you look at it I recon we are somewhere in the region of 46-60,000 blogs short. Now my first instinct is simply to think I have a decimal place wrong somewhere – embarrassing as that would be, I would actually be quite relieved! Feel free to point out the obvious error I have overlooked! However, you need to move that decimal point quite a lot to reduce the deficit to zero.
So how can we explain this apparent deficit?
1) Actually blogging isn’t evenly distributed across Britain – people in Wales don’t blog much.
2) Actually blogging isn’t evenly distributed across languages, Welsh speakers don’t blog much.
3) Actually 22% (or 17%) of Welsh speakers do blog, they just do it in English.
4) Actually my maths was just horribly wrong and there is no deficit.
5) Errors and differences in the statistics have been compounded and multipled to give an inaccurate estimate.
6) Open to suggestions…
Even if I am only vaguely right on my numbers, and if the explanation is 1, 2, or 3, this seems remarkable. It certainly for me raises some interesting questions about the vitality of the Welsh language online.