Writing for an audience is a special and important sub-case: it’s writing with feedback and consequences. Doing it yourself changes how you think about it and how you evaluate others’ efforts. The now-unfashionable word ‘empowerment’ describes a part of that change: writing is a way of discovering one’s voice and feeling its strength. But writing in public involves discovering the boundaries and limits of that power, too. We learn all the different ways in which we are not the center of the universe. That kind of discovery has a way of helping us grow up fast.

So when I hear the still-commonplace dismissal of blogging as a trivial pastime or an amateurish hobby, I think, hold on a second. Writing — making texts — changes how we read and think. Every blogger (at least every blogger that wasn’t already a writer) is someone who has learned to read the world differently.