Editing your voice

Six words that have stuck me over the years come from Dave Winer's piece in 2003 discussing what makes a weblog a weblog; those words are:

"The unedited voice of a person"

They have stuck with me in that I have always referred to my current blog as an ongoing conversation with myself and refused guest posts because of it.

But they have also haunted me.

Looking back at my first proper blog on the old randomelements domain it was unedited; I wrote about anything and wasn't constantly trying to post well crafted, long form thought pieces. Most of the posts from the earlier years were short, often informational and now wouldn't look out of place on Facebook.

I started posting there in 2003, on a self hosted SharePoint server that really wasn't designed for such a purpose. Many updates were incredibly meta detailing the ongoing process of trying to make SharePoint look and work like more traditional blogging software.

The site was rebranded at the end of 2007 followed, after increasing frustration, by a move to WordPress in 2008 coupled with the intention of concentrating my writing mostly on a single topic, hence the name: Social Thoughts.

But the rebranding was a double edged sword. On one hand, it gave needed focus and got me involved in some very interesting discussions but, on the other, it drove me towards a more journalistic writing style and a desire to get things just right or they didn't get posted.

The focus cut me off from some of the other things I should have been writing about, and this is why Dave's words also haunt me:

I was editing my own voice.

Sadly, I still do.

Editing your voice

Self censorshipComments

The words “the unedited voice of a person” as mentioned in the last post always referred to being free from external influence and change, or be "not edited by someone else."

This is a guideline which effectively rules out a lot of news sites and journalists "blogs" from being actual blogs if there is editorial oversight and input beyond the basics like grammar checking.

If it is one person's voice then it is a blog.

But I am guilty of self-censorship and both resent and often regret doing it.

Perhaps, in this way, my voice is being edited in response to external influence. Rather than just posting whatever comes to mind there is an aspect of needing to please the audience, to write something they will want to read in a way they will want to read it.

And that annoys me which is why the words still haunt me even though they are not intended to apply in that way.

Self censorship