Since I started blogging, I read more thoroughly. Not necessarily because I read with an eye toward how I can blog the given text, but because if I do, I need to be more familiar with it than I would be for a conversation over dinner.
Take, for instance, my posts about the Valerie Plame affair, specifically, whether Plame was undercover when Novak outed her. Before I became a blogger, I would have known the gist of the story—that Plame worked for the C.I.A.—but probably would have lacked sufficient knowledge to form a sold answer. Now, because blogging, like studying for a test, forces you to focus and to understand, I can credibly contribute to the discussion.
To put it another way, blogging sharpens the mind. As the New York Times observed in an editorial today, what bloggers call “fisking,” or dissecting another’s argument, is “a way of expanding and, in some sense, reifying the ephemeral daily conversation that humans engage in.”
Indeed, since democracy thrives on an informed and engaged populace, blogs enhance democracy.
Addendum (1/19/2005): As Ana Marie Cox, the blogger formerly known as Wonkette, recently put it, “Blogs in general have democratized the debate about politics.”
Addendum (3/24/2006): Jessica Cutler, aka the Washingtonienne, agrees: “Everyone should have a blog. It’s the most democratic thing ever.”