When asked if blogs are valuable at all, Dr. Carl Trueman says:
Few strengths. It’s all too anarchic. I think fun and information sharing are the best it can do. Weaknesses: feeds narcissism; allows any old nutcase to present themselves as a serious player in theological and ecclesiastical discussion.Certainly Dr. Carl has a point here. Blogging often can and does feed pride. Do I frequent my hit counter too often? Sadly, the answer probably is, "yes". The blog can be a meter of fluctuating self-worth as you observe who is linking to you and who and how many people come to your blog. This is can be a serious form of addictive self-idolatry and needs to be fought at all costs. I have found that taking a blog fast is a good means to fight this sin of pride through blogging. It can be a serious time waster as well. Often I feel the nag in my soul that I am missing out on something important if I don't frequent my Google Reader enough. This sense of urgency can be addictive and I can feel the need to "check in" too much.
Let me say this as well by way of caution. If you find that you read more blogs than good books, that is most likely a problem. For the most part, good books have been tested by time, publishers, editors and years of research and thinking. Most blogs have not. As Carl says above, "any other nut-job can get a blog". Though there certainly are nut-jobs that write books, there are way more of them that have blogs simply because it is so much easier to acquire a blog. Keep this in mind as you read blogs.
Hopefully with these dangers in full view, here is why I blog:
1. Practice writing. Writing is a skill just like anything else. The more you do the better you get. The ability to formulate ideas and thoughts in a concise and understandable way is a foundational facet of our civilization that I seek to improve in. The truth is though I don't have that many great things to say (if ever), so I usually point to great things that others have said. But when I do choose write my own thoughts I find that this a valuable process to hone the skill of writing.
2. A place to document my thoughts. Oftentimes I don't know how I feel about an issue until I actually articulate it in a way that someone else could read and understand (as I am doing right now). It forces me to think specifically and concretely about something as opposed to just have this amorphous blob of thinking about an issue rolling around in my brain. In terms of documentation, I also have a blog all about my kids that tracks their development. It functions like a baby book but better because I can upload pictures, videos and write out quickly and easily things that they said or did that we'll want to remember in 20 years. For certain, grandparents who live hundreds of miles away greatly value this blogging.
3. A place to document other people's thoughts that I want to share with others. This can be a form of indirect community encouragement as I communicate things that I deem valuable or insightful.
4. A place to document other people's thoughts that I can easily access to in the future. For example, I often find in preparing for a teaching that I have to do at church my mind will quickly revert back to something I posted a long time ago. Maybe it was something on humility by C.J. Mahaney. All I have to do is type his name into my blog's search engine and I will have it. This has proved very useful for me as my blog size continues to increase. The longer I blog, the more information I amass, but it doesn't take up massive amounts of shelf space in my office.
5. A context for community. Certainly this kind of "community" is limited and superficial, but it is community none the less. Many of my friends from college who I would not keep in touch with otherwise, have blogs that I read and comment on and vice versa. I have also met many people through blogs that I would not have otherwise met and have benefited from the cyber-relationship that takes place via email and comments sections.
6. Entertainment. Entertainment should be low on the priority list, but it's still on the list.
So these are my reasons. Are there dangers? Certainly, but for now, I feel as though the benefits outweigh the costs. Fellow bloggers, what would you add to this list and what other dangers do you recognize?