Russian Web 2.0 Explodes with Content – 10 Million Blogs by 2008

I was a lucky kid. Since I was seven, I waited with great anticipation for lunch time, when my mother, who worked at a large publishing house, would bring a freshly printed pack of Soviet newspapers, like “Izvestiya,” “Pravda,” “Trud,” “Komsomolskaya Pravda,” “Krasnaya Zvezda,” “Sovetsky Sport,” all in all, up to 10+ newspapers. There was nothing more pleasant than to chomp on a juicy apple and read all the latest news in one pack! I even used to fight with my older brother over who will get “Sovetsky Sport” and “Komsomolskaya Pravda” first.

Despite the abundance of styles, from the stiff and official “Pravda” to the more relaxed and youthful “Komsomolskaya Pravda”, the opinions expressed were trimmed to the rules of the reigning Soviet propaganda machine. Only after the genie of glasnost came out of Gorbachev’s bottle, I saw some unusually critical articles in the Soviet press. Even then, people still could not really speak up or relate their opinions to particular events, except discussing it with friends or relatives in their tiny kitchens, where people could discuss anything and everything at small kitchen tables with the help of vodka and pickles Forbes

Alas, in the early Yeltsin era, the newly minted democratic Russian media developed in a motley crew of yellow press, scandals and soap operas. Often it was hard to sift through this flow and find some real pearls of genuine truth and compelling critic. In the late 90’s, the Internet gave birth to the blogging universe, and it quickly gained popularity from mass users, journalists, politicians and critics, creating a gigantic Russian salad of opinions and philosophies never tasted before.

Today Russian blogging services are on their way up. The latest research by Yandex, the Russian search engine No. 1, showed that the two most popular services in the Russian Internet (RUNET) are LiveJournal’s Russian language community (RULJ) and LiveInternet (LI). On June 6, 2007, the RULJ proudly recorded 1 million registered users and blogs. Yet the long-standing #2 blogging site LI is rapidly reaching its main rival, RULJ, in terms of new blogs and everyday notes.

However, the gap is still wide: LI has 170,000 daily visitors, while there are 600,000 visitors at RULJ. LI’s General Director German Klimenko said to CNews that the number of active blogs at LI will exceed LJ by the end of 2007. Yandex research indicates that the overall growth of the Russian blogging sphere is 74% (41% worldwide), however the total number of Russian blogs account for only 3% of worldwide blogs. Analysts believe that by 2008 there will be at least 10 million blogs in the Russian part of the global blogosphere.

Let’s make a quick comparison between LI and RULJ. Once you check or register to both, one thing becomes clear immediately: RULJ is definitely more mature and garners an older audience. LI, boasting a kaleidoscope of services, is crafted for teenagers and young adults. Naturally, LI’s audience is growing faster than that of RULJ. After all, kids are craving for company and socializing. The big difference is in the quality of content and blogs, where at LI bored teenagers spill out their fresh half-thoughts and desires, while the good ol’ RULJ crowd is much more content with serious topics and informative content. There is a great number of really interesting blogs and boards at RULJ. Nevertheless, both blog arenas cover well for their type of audiences.

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