I found this in the Mandarin wikibook:
"It is considered easier for people who learn Traditional to read both sets than people who learn Simplified only, but Simplified characters are less intimidating for beginners. In this wikibook, all examples and vocabulary are given in both systems, and you are encouraged to choose one system and stick with it throughout".
I found it to be potentially very valuable knowledge, so I started prodding around with a search engine only to find mass loads of Traditional vs Simplified web pages, which don't make me any more enlightened. What I'm interested in are facts that can help resolve the problem of which writing system I should learn first (or if I should learn both in parallel?), such as: What portion of people use each system? What portion of literature uses each system? How much easier is it if one learns Traditional first. I have learned which parts of china use each system, but cannot find these numbers and facts.
I have started learning Mandarin by myself and my goal is currently as vague as "wanting to speak Chinese". Being restricted to the last 6 decades of literature motivates me to know Traditional, but at first, Simplified seemed like the obvious choice. Of course, I don't know what weight to give these facts in my decision making, hence asking here.
I understand that I haven't asked a clear, single question, but I think it's clear what I'm trying to figure out.