Web Explored: Free Speech and Getting Lost

Digital freedom - Free Speech

These past weeks, I have trawled the web, as ever. What has free speech got to do with this? This time I want­ed to offer some dif­fer­ent types of thoughts from around the web and not nec­es­sar­i­ly views I sup­port. I am, in part, pro­vid­ing ideas of things to write about, so the Web Explored col­umn needs to show­case many more types of writ­ing. We live in peculiar/exciting times, we nev­er seem to know what tomor­row will bring, except some­thing new. That gives plen­ty for the writer to think and write about.

What do you think?


Threats and Free Speech

Michael LaBossiere on A Philosopher’s Blog where a speech by a con­ser­v­a­tive at “Berke­ley was can­celled in response to threats”. LaBossiere states “I hold to a view of free­dom of expres­sion that goes far beyond the lim­it­ed legal pro­tec­tion laid out in the First Amend­ment. I also hold to the free­dom of con­sump­tion — that peo­ple have a right to, for exam­ple, hear what­ev­er views they wish to hear.”

Don't like it - turn it offThere is all too much thought these days about sup­press­ing the views of peo­ple whose views are not seen as accept­able. This has been a trend that I have watched with hor­ror over the past quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry. Gen­er­al­ly it has been my phi­los­o­phy that if I don’t like the views a per­son holds, I will not go to a speech and lis­ten to them. When view we don’t like are on TV, we can always turn it off. It is of course wrong to make threats and this is what LaBossiere dis­cuss­es. The chal­lenge of free speech always comes with the peo­ple whose views you dis­like, as much as we hate them open­ing their mouths they have every right to do so.


Can’t Think what to Write About?

This is a con­tri­bu­tion by Kel­ly Gur­nett that tack­les the age old ques­tion — “How do you come up with ideas?” She offers 21 Unusu­al Ways to Find Blog Post Inspi­ra­tion as the solu­tion to the blogger’s prob­lem. Here are a few I like:

  • Read a Blog you total­ly dis­agree with
  • Learn some­thing new
  • Hang out with a kid
  • Twit­ter trend­ing hashtags

If you want to find any more then you will have to read them on Kelly’s orig­i­nal arti­cle. The chal­lenge: RUN OUT OF IDEAS, and for a free­lance blog­ger that isn’t only mild­ly embar­rass­ing… it could mean your income dries up, too. Gur­nett offers an inter­est­ing perspective.



Lost by MichiArt CC0 Public Domain from Pixabay.Tea­gan Berry writes in When you don’t know where the story’s going about “pants­ing a new writ­ing project”. In case you didn’t know this is, it is when you are fly­ing by the seat of your pants on some­thing you are work­ing on. As Berry points out “the oppo­site writ­ing style is plot­ting”. “Pants­ing” is what I have pre­vi­ous­ly called free writ­ing. This is a tech­nique that allows you to express your­self freely. It can be used whether writ­ing fic­tion or non­fic­tion and is real­ly an exer­cise in let­ting the words run free. One could argue we should all do that, then rearrange it in edit­ing.

Some of my most pop­u­lar pieces have result­ed from free-writ­ing, but I would also say the same is true for some of my least pop­u­lar pieces.


Writer’s Assembly Line?

The best copy­writ­ers col­lect the var­ied parts of their research and assem­ble those parts into a true sto­ry that res­onates with the par­tic­u­lar world­view of an audi­ence”. Says Robert Bruce on Copy­Blog­ger. The advice starts… “Lis­ten to the cre­ator of the prod­uct you’re sell­ing. Let her talk (for hours if nec­es­sary) about what makes it work, why she built it, what she hopes it will do for her cus­tomers”. Many blog­gers act like copy­writ­ers in that they assem­ble blog posts from sev­er­al bits of infor­ma­tion avail­able to them. All writ­ers need to lis­ten to their audi­ence and what they are telling you about what it is they need.

One aspect of Bruce’s words I agree with are… “lis­ten care­ful­ly, your audi­ence can even­tu­al­ly give you every­thing you need, includ­ing much of your copy”. Blog­gers must lis­ten to their feed­back, whether in com­ments or on social media and be guid­ed by the wise words of the audi­ence, at least to some extent. Don’t become an assem­bly line, I have seen a few writ­ers that are dri­ven to get their words pub­lished assem­bly-line fash­ion and all too fre­quent­ly qual­i­ty suffers.

In “Some­one will Choose YouMeg Dow­ell dis­cuss­es the chal­lenge of get­ting her first writ­ing job out of col­lege and the asso­ci­at­ed rejec­tions. He con­clu­sion “what mat­ters more is expe­ri­ence … and writ­ing sam­ples”. As with any job it is gain­ing expe­ri­ence that mat­ters. But the eter­nal chal­lenge how are you sup­posed to get such expe­ri­ence with­out a break? This a won­der­ful story.


A Writer’s Getaway

on the deck chair - Public Domain imageBec­ca Puglisi on Writ­ers Help­ing Writ­ers, asks “Is a Writ­ers’ Res­i­den­cy Right For You?” I have heard of them and think it is a good idea. I have also con­sid­ered run­ning one here in Nia­gara Falls if I can find a writer that I can part­ner with to make the course a success.

If you’re a writer, the idea of tak­ing a month off now and then to go some­where qui­et and work on your craft prob­a­bly falls some­where along the axis between wist­ful day­dream and deep need”. The prob­lem with doing so is that life gets in the way, there are bills to pay etc. Most peo­ple say they can’t afford the month off. Take a look at this post to see if you can pick up some ideas.


Drive to Survive?

Christi­na Delay in “The Dri­ve to Sur­vive as a Writer” talks about he expe­ri­ence run­ning writ­ing retreats. She says “it has been very reveal­ing how we as writ­ers react to dif­fer­ent ideas, new peo­ple, and unex­pect­ed sit­u­a­tions”. In any new sit­u­a­tion peo­ple are instinc­tive­ly “look­ing for the threat”. That is so true, peo­ple do have a built-in alarm sys­tem and there are some that fear such occasions.

She dis­cuss­es the dri­ve to sur­vive and the assess­ment of risk ver­sus reward (prob­a­bly what dri­ves us to seek new knowl­edge). Chris­tine “chal­lenges each of you to find some­thing new to con­front your­selves with this week,” are you up for it?


More about Free Speech

In “Trump Pres­i­den­cy In Deep Trou­ble As Talk Of Impeach­ment Grows” Bri Holmes talks about Son­ali Kohlhatkar, host of Los Ange­les-based “Ris­ing Up With Son­ali“ and dis­cus­sions with Free Speech For Peo­ples jour­nal. Here in Cana­da, some­one start­ed a pool for the date Don­ald Trump is impeached. The ear­li­est date select­ed in that pool has already passed, but most par­tic­i­pants gen­uine­ly believe it will hap­pen. For some this is quite a seri­ous chal­lenge. The point about free speech is that we can all have an opinion.

If there is a view­point that can be writ­ten about in the mod­ern era then sure­ly this is it the duty of a writer to explore it. I am well aware that the right to free speech is a long way from being uni­ver­sal­ly accepted.

I often won­der how ques­tions of free speech would be viewed by any arti­fi­cial intelligence.


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