A while back I was interviewed by Ophelia Benson for an article in The Philosophers' Magazine on philosophy and blogging (placing me in the esteemed company of Nigel Warburton, Brian Leiter, and H.E. Baber). The article itself doesn't seem to be available online yet [update: now it is], but my own thoughts can be found below. Feel free to add your own...
1. What motivated you to take up blogging?
I was just starting to really get into philosophy, and I found that I had a lot of ideas but nowhere to put them. So I created a blog to serve as a kind of notebook. Soon others joined in, which added a whole new dimension to the experience. (As a student hidden away in New Zealand, it was an invaluable opportunity to discuss philosophy with students half the world away.) And of course now there's a thriving online philosophical community, complete with carnivals and all...
2. Do you think blogs are a good medium for philosophy?
I think there are three kinds of philosophical activity to which blogs are especially well suited. First is the exploration of half-baked ideas, to get some early feedback and test their potential for further development. Secondly, blogs are a great study and teaching tool, as students can attempt to summarize an issue, and their readers may respond to help correct any misunderstandings. (A good summary may also benefit the readers' knowledge, of course.) Finally, a tightly focused blog post can make technical contributions in response to other work, perhaps critiquing a particular step in an argument, or offering an alleged counterexample.
Of course, blogs are no replacement for the sustained philosophy one finds in longer articles and book-length treatments. But, in light of the above, I'd say that they at least have a valuable supplementary role to play. Blogs are a good medium for some philosophy.
3. Do you think they're a good thing more generally?
Yeah, I think so. Like the internet more generally, blogs enable us to overcome geographic boundaries to communication. That's got to be a good thing. I guess it's the political ones that are most controversial in this regard -- there may be worries about group polarization and "echo chamber" effects, for example. But I'm optimistic that they can also serve to promote reasoned dialogue, so I'm working on a new "Carnival of Citizens" to this effect.
4. Do you think there are any drawbacks to blogging as a popular medium? If so, do you think they're more acute for philosophy (and/or academic subjects in general)?
Blog posts tend to have a short shelf life, typically dying away after a short burst of discussion. Academic topics may benefit from more sustained attention. But again, there are other mediums to provide that -- so long as blogs don't presume to provide everything, such limitations needn't be a problem.