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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