Finding your voice

I received a query from Arthur Male recently asking:

“How do you contrast the conversations you have on Don’s Learning Blog with the conversations you have person to person when you are engaged in understanding educational experience?”

To which I replied:

“I may be misleading myself, and perhaps it might be best to check with others, but I hope the kind of conversations that I carry out on my blog are replicated face to face.

I don’t actually think it’s possible to maintain a facade on a blog – it’s a bit like a personality test where the same question is asked in lots of different ways. If you weren’t being genuine it would show through in the inconsistencies in the blog posts over period of time.

I believe that blogging is a window on the person. If someone has something to hide about their competence then blogging might not be for them.”

My reason for posting this was a conversation I had yesterday with John Connell about the process of finding your blogging voice. What we agreed was that you can’t fake it as a blogger – there are some people who start out keeping a blog and think they can use it to present a less than truthful account of what they think and how they behave.

My advice – for what it’s worth – to such people would be  don’t blog – you will always be caught out.

What people do need to be aware of is that it will take you some time to “find your authentic voice” and that blogging – like all new skills – needs practice and improves with familiarity.

5 thoughts on “Finding your voice

  1. On Monday I was presenting to the LTSFutures team on just this subject. Saying that we must “find” our “authentic voice” implies that we start out with an unauthentic one. I would say that blogging’s voice does not resemble the F2F voice, but it can actually be more profound since we tend to cut to the meat in blogging. Now, being able to do that within an orgnisation is tricky if that organisation does not want its employees to tell the whole story.

    More of thes ideas and some examples are over here:

  2. I think it is fairer to say finding youur voice rather than finding your ‘authentic voice’. When I was discussing the idea of ‘finding my voice’ with Ewan on Monday, I was (and still am) aware that what I am choosing to write about on my blog. If I look back on some of my earlier posts (always a salutory exercise), I was playing about with the format more… I had more (so-called) humerous posts… more (obvious) statements and proclamations about software and education issues… in short, I had no idea what I wanted to say.

    I have a clearer idea about what I will and won’t blog about now, but I think the real difference is that I no longer sit and agonise about whether or not what I write is well written. I am much happier and more confident that what I have to say might find a sympathetic audience, and if it doesn’t, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it… in this sense, I would say I’m finding a more ‘authentic’ voice because I am more relaxed about the whole process.

    If I can add anything to this comversation, it is that (based on my own experience) I think new bloggers need time to experiment. They need to be allowed to make mistakes… they need to get some things wrong… they need to learn! (Bit like the kids we teach, actually!)

  3. Don – I’ve been thinking about this since our chat on Friday evening. My own thoughts are presaged to some extent by Neil, in that I think the best that most of us can do is to do our best to find a voice tha comes as close to ‘authentic’ as we can manage within the real-world constraints we find ourselves gripped by.

    If you heppen to read the blog of someone you know nothing about, it will always prove difficult, unless the writer is progidously unskilled (and, to be fair, there are undoubtedly lots of them around), to tell whether or not the writer is being honest, transparent and ‘authentic’. It is only really when you know something of the writer that you can begin to judge his or her authenticity, and even then, you have to try to set it against your own prejudices and your own predilections.

    So, while I agree with Ewan that the ‘real’ blogger must eventually find his or her authentic voice, I am not wholly convinced that (as in Ewan’s post) the word ‘authentic’ can ever really lose those damned parentheses!

    Of course, the same is true of the real-life discourse – the question of what is ‘authentic’ (see what I mean!) and what is not must in large part be determined by our own personal starting point.

    I still think the worst thing we can do is to make arbitrary rules about what is permissible in the blogosphere and what is not. Even the digital natives cannot work out how this will all turn out in the wash!

  4. Very interesting post. I have found the comments left very reassuring and useful.
    Many a time I have found myself reading, pondering and scrutinising over posts that I write, and the comments I leave.
    Indeed I have retracted two posts this week through insecurity. I have to say that I am immensely concerned as to the lack of knowledge, of blogs, blogging and networking.
    While we bloggers are all blogging and commenting, developing/sharing our ‘good practice’, becoming confident in the world of the net, many important/ influential individuals are being ‘left behind’ (my unnamed colleague and very good friend as one).
    How can we change this, I ask?
    In my opinion time is a huge factor.
    I don’t want to state facts that are unfounded, but my impression is that a lot of individuals throughout education, appear to have a somewhat dubious opinion of blogging.

    Maybe it is just me.

  5. Thank goodness you do blog, Tess. I was using your blog as an example at a meeting on Saturday of the Association for Science Education to help prove that not all bloggers are friendless blokes!
    Ewan is on to something when he talks about cutting to the meat in blogging. Frequently face to face communication in an organisational setting is less than ideal. Chris Argyris coined the term skilled incompetence to describe the way managers can be very good at being unclear to avoid conflict. That sort of thing isn’t so easy in writing. Face to face, people are more likely to make assumptions, possibly invalid, about what was meant and not test these assumptions. On a blog, though, it’s much more likely that any attempt to put a confusing “spin” on things – no matter how skilled – will lead to follow up questions.

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