Someone's opened a whole can of worms, here, and it's got people talking! I found the discussion via Vicki's blog, but I think the catalyst was Will Richardson.
Christopher Sessums then weighed in with this post, which has attracted comments from several people, and to which I added this contribution:
I think I'm not far from Barbara's blog to think approach, or D'Arcy's outboard brain. I guess my blog is my filing cabinet-cum-hairbrush-microphone.
Blogging allows me to record things I might want to come back to later. It allows me to reference stuff I might want to be able to find again. It allows me to get things off my chest. It frees me from the need to remember things, affording me a place to "put my knowledge" without fear of losing it.
You ask how we would be impacted if we didn't have any readers. The audience or lack thereof is the least of my concerns. I was in fact, quite surprised to learn that I had a reader. Then that one reader became two. I don't think that number has grown, and I don't really care.
Many of us, as kids, used to sing along to our favourite songs with a hairbrush-microphone, giving dramatic performances for audiences we knew to be be entirely imaginary. It doesn't necessarily signify a desire for recognition as much as a desire for self-expression. Those who give the wildest performances in the privacy of their homes would often rather have root canal than face a real audience. For those people, the imaginary audience is infinitely preferable. I often write as if I'm addressing someone, but that "someone" is in fact my imaginary audience. If it turns out that there is actually someone out there, great; if not, hey ho.
On the other hand, other people's blogs allow me to learn stuff I didn't know before. To find out what other people think about the things I'm dealing with. To enter into an exchange of ideas with people I would never otherwise have encountered. I don't know what motivates them to blog, but I'm glad they do!
I have worn my son's ICT teacher down and he has gotten the kids blogging. There may be those who don't engage and that's fine - it's purely another avenue of self expression and the exchange of ideas, I don't think anyone fools themselves that it's the only option. Some kids may find blogging easier than talking in the same way that some people dare to say things in emails that they wouldn't have the courage to say in person. As an extreme example: imagine the opportunities for eloquence to a child with a debilitating stutter.
The technology is there, it would be a shame not to offer it to people as an option, whatever their reasons may be for using it.
I don't know how other people came to blogging. I was introduced to it by a colleague who calls his blog his "second brain" - a little like D'Arcy's outboard brain. Initially, that was what I perceived to be the purpose of the technology. It was only my tendency to fulminate, and the gradual realisation that this blog was a handy place to do exactly that, that resulted in the evolution of this blog to its current state. Were I less opinionated, perhaps that change would never have taken place. However, expressing my opinions like this gets it off my chest and relieves my family, colleagues and friends of the need to listen to me waffling on.