Monday, June 26th, 2006

Demographics predictionI came across Microsoft’s adCenter Labs today in a routine search for cool Web 2.0 things. They’ve got an automatic demographics predictor that judges someone’s gender and age based on their search queries and the websites they visit.

If you type in knitting: 78% chance you’re female, and you’re most likely between 35 and 49 years old.
If you visit my site: 53% chance you’re female, and you’re most likely under 18. I’m slightly horrified by the age judgement (do I use OMG that often?), but let’s move on.

Assuming there’s no question that the average knitter is female, is the average knitter really between 35 and 49? I suppose my experience is coloured by the fact that the people I’ve met are mostly through blogs and such and therefore most of the knitters I know are younger, mid-to-late twenties folks. But those same people who are publishing knitting blogs are also the ones who are doing the most on the web, dontcha think? Shouldn’t the age demo be skewed lower? Now that I think of it, maybe the people I’m connecting with are actually in their thirties and I’m just assuming they’re younger because they have such youthful vigour. What do you think? How old is the average knitter?

Thinking about knitting demographics brings another interesting question to mind: is there a generational knitting gap between our grandmothers and those of us (I’m speaking to the 20-somethings now) who are taking part in this “second wave” of knitting popularity? Are/were our mothers as fanatical about knitting as we are? Back in the 80s (which is rapidly approaching thirty years ago), our moms were doing the whole going-to-work thing, and couldn’t have cared less about domestic activities like knitting or crochet. Knitting was too weak, and women had to shed all previous connections to their male-oppressed lives before they could emerge from the ashes of domesticity. It’s only been in the past few years that we’ve had this re-knit-ssance (that was my attempt to mash knitting into the word “renaissance”). I still get spiteful looks from feminists when they see me knitting, as if it’s somehow beneath us all to perform such a menial, mechanical task.

I know my mom sorta crocheted, but she only knew how to dc when I asked her to show me the ropes. Will she pick up a hook in the near future? Not likely; she’s quite content to receive handknits from me, and considering the number of “I’m making this shawl for my mom” posts in the days leading up to mother’s day, my mom isn’t alone. So what happened to that generation? Is this just a dip in the trend, or will there always be this fluctuation every time someone wants to redefine knitting as “the new feminism” or “the new chauvinism?” Will we eventually stop making art that “examines gender roles” by clichédly knitting manly things? Will we ever stop describing brooklyntweed as “that boy knitter?”

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7 Comments to “Demographics”

  1. Very interesting. I just turned 34 so I almost fit into that category though I still feel younger and hipper than 35-49. Of course I could just be deluding myself. My mother didn’t knit or crochet. She dabbled in counted cross stitch, took a quilting class and says she doesn’t have time to do any crafts. Though she is now semi-retired, no kids at home nor within several hundred miles, lives very comfortably so I’m thinking she has all the time in the world. What do I know?

    Comment by
    June 26, 2006 @ 5:26 pm
  2. I’m 37 but someone told me I looked like I was in high school the other day **snort** I wish! haha
    There are lots of older knitters on the internet, too, though. I’m in a knitting group where I am one of the youngest ones in there and there are hundreds of ladies in there.

    That being said, I think the average age of knitters will continue to get younger, because so many younger women are taking up the needles. After all, my daughter is 5 and she’s a beginning knitter, but she’s not allowed on the Internet yet =)*)

    Comment by April
    June 26, 2006 @ 5:37 pm
  3. Well, I know you weren’t talking to me about this question, but it still applies b/c my Grandmother WAS a knitter but my mom was NOT – I learned knitting from books and on the Internet

    there I go again commenting over and over – and now I see you just commented on MY blog at the same time as I was typing this. I always think that’s very odd when that happens =)

    Comment by April
    June 26, 2006 @ 5:40 pm
  4. oops I lied, that wasn’t you, sorry duh hahahaha

    Comment by April
    June 26, 2006 @ 5:43 pm
  5. April: Oh my goodness, I actually did put you in the younger category, I thought you were just really young for a married chick :)

    Amanda: Yeah, I think my mom would give that excuse if she wasn’t so busy. Actually I wonder what she will do when she retires? Her work is her life! (But it’s fun work, she says.)

    Comment by Eve
    June 26, 2006 @ 6:04 pm
  6. Since they don’t disclose any of the data on how they get the numbers, I assume that their little generator automatically assigns more under-18 readers to a blog website. I’m pretty sure that I don’t have a single under-18 visitor to my site!

    But the site returns results awfully quickly, doesn’t it? And there’s that “proof of concept” bit at the bottom that makes me suspicious. Either they have indexed every single site in the whole entire world, and cross-referenced it with a database of census information… or it’s just a fakey.

    Comment by Erika
    June 27, 2006 @ 12:08 am
  7. Hm, yeah, maybe. I didn’t read any of the legal stuff :)

    Darn Microsoft jerks, think they know us…

    Comment by Eve
    June 28, 2006 @ 9:50 am

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