[O]ur mental activities actually cause changes in the structures of our brains--not only what we think, but how we think as well. ... After surveying the general range of materials that the blogosphere has to offer, we believe the following basic largely supportive conclusions are warranted:
1. Blogs can promote critical and analytical thinking.
First, there are blogs and there are...well, blogs. The best of blogs are rich in ideas and promote active exchange and critique. Rather than creating closed communities of like-minded troglodytes, these best blogs foster conversation, interactions with other blogs and other information sources, and invite feedback from their readers. Posts can form "threads" or links to other Web materials where readers can examine primary source material or articles that offer competing ideas and views. Blogs that follow this format are far from simple substitutes for television or video games. In fact, they are an ideal format for promoting critical and analytical thinking....
2. Blogging can be a powerful promoter of creative, intuitive, and associational thinking.
To remain popular with readers, blogs must be updated frequently. This constant demand for output promotes a kind of spontaneity and 'raw thinking'--the fleeting associations and the occasional outlandish ideas--seldom found in more formal media.... Raw, spontaneous, associational thinking has also been advocated by many creativity experts, including the brilliant mathematician Henri Poincare who recommended writing without much thought at times "to awaken some association of ideas."
3. Blogs promote analogical thinking....
4. Blogging is a powerful medium for increasing access and exposure to quality information....
5. Blogging combines the best of solitary reflection and social interaction....
Bloggers have solitary time to plan their posts, but they can also receive rapid feedback on their ideas. The responses may open up entirely new avenues of thought as posts circulate and garner comments.
Read the whole thing.
I feel that I came to blogging with a brain ready to do exactly this and previously severely frustrated by an inability to do this. And I am also very aware that blogging has really affected my mind, mostly in good ways. For one thing, it's gotten me past that severe frustration of not blogging.
As I write this, the little kid across the street is screaming: "A worm! A worm! A worm! Oh! Ah! A worm! A worm! A worm! Oh! Ah!" And I'm already thinking, I want to blog about that.
Then I realize I don't need to start another post. That quote and my wanting to blog about it fit quite well right here, illustrating what blogging has done to my brain. In some ways, I feel I can think more clearly and quickly about what matters — in a bloggish sense of what "matters," which includes that worm quote. And I have a cool feeling of being able to pay rapt attention to whatever I'm thinking and writing about while still being ever distractable.