I think I am coming to a realization for me that, like any communication tool, there are things that blogs are good for and things they don't do as well.
Here are some of the things I see that blogs are good for:
sharing information: blogs provide a handy way to share information, especially people separated by time or distance. many blogs are dedicated to this, and this was the reason for this blog, to make it easy on family and friends who are far away to keep up on what is happening in our lives.
encouragment and communication for people in similar situations: whether it is the struggles and joys of parenting, losing weight, going through adoption, it seems to me that blog are a good way for people who are going through similar situations to communicate and learn from each other and encourage each other.
encouragment and communication for people with similar ideas: like the previous point, I think people who share a common goal or ideas can find encouragement and share ideas and resources.
There are, however, some things that I think blogs really are not very good at:
convincing people to adopt new ideas: I don't think blogs work well for trying to convince people to adopt your ideas if they don't already have similar views. in part I think that is because of the shear time it takes to lay out arguments and defend ideas and the level of familiarity just cannot be achieved in the blogging world.
discussing differenting ideas or viewpoints: for some of the same reasons as the previous point I think discussing differenting ideas on blogs really doesn't accomplish much. too many of the subtleties of communication are lost on blogs and there are too many places where miscommunication can take place. the lack of familiarity makes it hard to try to sway people one way or another. while I have had some intelligent and civil discussions on blogs I'm not sure anyone is the better off for it. and then there are the times I have been involved in discussions that quickly turn vile. I think this is particularly concerning among Christians. I hate to think of those outside the faith looking at these conversations and thinking, "I want no part of that."
This list is not exhaustive and you are certainly free to disagree, but I am going to try to change the way I view blogs, which blogs I view and the way I react. I'm not saying I will never stumble and get into discussing differenting viewpoints on blogs, but I am certainly going to try to avoid it.