Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Survey Results: What Tech Washington Reads

Given the small number of responses (fewer than 50), I cannot regard my survey as statistically significant. Having said that, the results are not without interest.

Most of the respondents were commercial sector, only one civil servant, a retired civil servant, a writer, a political activist, and two journalists. This is not surprising given that I aimed the survey at small entrepreneurs.

By far the most popular source of tech news is corporate web sites. This is in line with previous surveys and is a result that never ceases to amaze me. Clearly it behooves companies to pay attention to their website as people look to it as their preferred source of news. Close behind is the Google News Alert. Clearly everyone is their own executive editor. Subject matter rules, if you have the correct key words in your copy, you will get the traffic. We pay attention to SEO for a reason.

The remaining preferred sources of news, in descending order:
Federal Computer Week
New York Times
Wall Street Journal
Government Computer News
Wired Magazine
Washington Post
USA Today
Government Technology Magazine
Federal Times
CIO Magazine
Google Tech News
PC Magazine
The Economist
Washington Business Journal
Financial Times
Public CIO
Defense News
MIT Tech Review
CNN Tech
Inc Magazine
The Pew Internet & American Life Project
Potomac Tech Wire
PC World
Amtower Federal Direct
Dorobek Insider
Corporate Press Releases

I also asked respondents to volunteer other sources of news which I had not listed and received the following replies:
Industry Analyst
The Verge, Ars Technica, Twitter
Too many left off the list to specify here. Essentially, the list needs to be upgraded to include many more web-based sources. For me, as a developer, Smashing Magazine would rank high on the list.
And finally:
None of the above, they are useless for my business. I had to create custom Google Alerts, and even those miss the mark. Creative Cow, Videomaker.com, Redshark News, the NAB show, and newsletters from various sites with products I am interested in.

I always find the "other" responses the most useful in my work as a PR practitioner. 

No surprises in the section on favorite business and tech blogs, Slashdot and Tech Crunch were the overwhelming favorites. Other favorites in descending order:
Ars Technica
Tech Dirt
Boing Boing
Read/Write Web
Joel on Software
None - that is don't read blogs
CMS Wire
Schneier on Security
Coding Horror
and, pleasantly enough, one respondent reads Presto Vivace Blog
Other blogs that were mentioned:
Bill Salm, Gizmodo, and Hacker News (YC)

I just put a space for respondents to lists their favorite business and technology podcasts, as I don't listen to podcasts. Responses included CNN, Paul Castain, and In Beta. One respondent said, "Those related to tutorials for the software that I use, but even those are rare. Podcasts are otherwise a waste of time, since you can't "speed read" and skip the jabber fluff, ads and jingles, or go straight to what you want to know very easily. News podcasts are too long, with too many stories. Each story should be a single file, so we can cut to the chase what we want to know without having to waste with the useless stuff."

Most respondents don't like aggregators, None was the most popular response, closely followed by Reddit. Clearly Reddit has arrived. PR practitioners must pay attention to Reddit, but be very careful. I am going to write a post about how to handle Reddit. The other poplar aggregators in descending order:
The Federal Contractor Network
In "other", I received the following responses:
and "More time wasting fluff sites."

Facebook is by far the most popular social network. Although, had I included LinkedIn as a choice it might have been the favorite. As it is, it was volunteered by two respondents, and mentioned in the "other" choice throughout this survey. LinkedIn is the community where people talk about their work. Govloop the other network marked by respondents.

In discussion groups by far the most popular choice was None. However, in the "other" section respondents mentioned P4hotel, LinkedIn, XML-Dev XSLT DITA, "Yahoogroups for specific industry issues and software" and, "LinkedIn and Ohio University/Vanderbilt University alumni discussion groups."

The biggest change from previous years is the shift away from the Washington Post. Now that Rob Pegoraro and other reporters have left, their readers have moved to other sources of tech news.

There were far too few respondents for this survey to be statistically significant. Some news sites are conspicuous by their absence in the responses. The only thing I would read into that is that this survey had too small a sample to be considered as serious market research. But it is not without interest.

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