Yesterday’s New York Times featured a portray of Glenn Reynolds, whose blog, instapundit.com, has become one of the most widely read and thus most influential ones in the US.
But as everyone knows, there’s no free lunch. Mr Reynold’s said he has begun to suffer from his successes in the blogosphere – admitting and warning that blogging can easily become an addition – “Today, I was in the gym, on the treadmill, watching CNN […] And as I was watching it, I was composing a blog entry in my head. Then I thought, ‘This really isn’t normal.'”.
Well, it may not be normal yet. But there’s a good reason why it should: Blogging does make a difference.
More precisely, blogging makes the difference between speaking and writing – for two reasons. Firstly, in a personal conversation, people will often say things they haven’t really thought through. That’s because speaking is such a fast, and flexible, way of communicating. Writing usually does take longer than speaking – time usually used to think about what one is actually writing. Thus, once people decide to put their opinions into writing, these opinions will very likely become better formulated as well as better thought through, simply because they spend more time thinking about them.
Secondly, I suppose, forming opinions on the treadmill is more common than Glenn Reynolds thinks. I believe most people will form some sort of opinion when watching CNN in the gym – well, let’s say there was a time when people could rely on CNN to supply sufficient reliable information to be able to form some sort of opinion while watching it in the gym. Thoughts are still free – so as long as they keep their opinions to themselves, they do not need to be neither coherent, nor correct nor concise. But as soon as they tell a friend about an opinion, it is out there, and it might be challenged. They put themselves on the spot.
Enter blogging: In the Blogosphere, they might just talk to a friend over a virtual pint. But chances are their opinions will (possibly) be read by more people than they would talk to in a gym. And chances are, they will be challenged by a larger and therefore more informed public than will usually available in a gym. And once again, I need a better argument to make a point.
Of course, the proliferation of blogging might counteract this effect to a certain extent. Emailing is not considered equal to a hand written letter. So blogging will probably not create the same incentives that writing a comment for the NYTimes would. But nonetheless – if blogging is actually addictive, it is certainly a socially useful addiction. So c’mon. Go and get your fix. Sign up and start writing today.