How does word processing affect our thought processes?

Mortensen and Walker (2002) ask the question: “[does] the way we write in a blog reveal something about how we think that would not be explicit in another medium?” They conclude that “blogging certainly influences the way you think about thinking“, and that using a different blogging tool may have unexpected effects on the way a blogger expresses their thoughts. A simple factor such as the size of the writing space may affect the length of posts, and some blogging tools allow you to add a blog icon to your web browser, enabling you to fire off an immediate response to something on the web. But the isolated act of typing thoughts into a blog is simply a form of word processing. What effect, if any, does the act of word processing itself have on our thinking?

Related to the act of word processing is the effect of words themselves on thought (and vice versa) – a fascinating topic that I’d like to delve into later, starting off by drawing on the writings of Benjamin Whorf and Lev Vygotsky and moving onwards and outwards from there.

Michael Heim’s Electric Language: A Philosophical Study of Word Processing (Yale University Press, 1986) sounds like it could be interesting (note to self – try to get hold of a copy). The act of typing something into a blog that is intended for publication certainly does affect our thinking. As Toril and Mortensen (2002) point out, because it’s intended to be read by others, writing in a blog forces greater clarity in the formulation of ideas than writing private notes, and “…it is easy to neglect old notes scribbled in the margin of a book…writing in a weblog one is forced to confront one’s own writing and opinions and to see them reflected in the words of others.” (p269). Can I conclude from this that, in terms of affecting the thought processes of the author, the audience (or the potential for an audience) is more important than the medium?