A recent article by Alan Jacobs in Books and Culture, entitled "Goodbye, Blog," is provocatively subtitled "The friend of information, but the enemy of thought." That about sums it up.
Jacobs, a blogger himself (both a contributor to and reader of blogs), laments the fact that his hope that blogs would revolutionize real discussion of real issues, in his words, that "blogs could provide an alternative venue where more risky ideas could be offered and debated, where real intellectual progress might take place outside the System," has not been borne out. That's System, capital "S", like the Establishment, man, the stifling academic or work environment where peer pressure and convention limits discussion of real issues.
Experience has proven otherwise, and Jacobs attributes that mostly to the architecture of blogs, to how the system is set up. There's both the way commenting occurs, when it occurs, which limits real discussion because threads get lost, or the vitriolic debate and name-calling engendered because those who comment are usually anonymous. (That's why I avoid commentary on political issues.) The latter points to the unfortunate fact that blogs are completely public. Anyone can comment, even idiots and those who are just downright mean. Bottom line: Blogs are great for news, but not much good for the development of ideas. It happens, but not often enough.
His comments made me consider my own blog, but I guess what I have here is a bit different. I'm open to comment but do not solicit it. I'm not trying to start a discussion, though I'm open to it. There's a little bit of information here, but more than that it is an exercise for me in writing about something everyday. That's everyday. That's difficult. It's been a useful discipline for me. The advantage over a more private journal is that as my thoughts are somewhat public, I have at least the sense of an audience, in theory if not reality. That makes me think about what I write. I think about clarity, spelling, and whether what I say might mean anything to someone other than me.
But there's also a downside. I hesitate to say some things, due to privacy concerns. The form limits me from writing a longer essay and does not lend itself to the development of bigger ideas. I guess the thoughts I express are just the kernels of those larger things which, maybe, just maybe, I'll get to one day.
Bottom line: This is good for now, for me, but whether I keep it up is an open question. Stay tuned.