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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holding Back

As part of some renewed discussion on blogging such as in New Blog, No Trust, and Audience Member, I had in my notes to go back and discuss the issue of holding back.

When is holding back better than posting?

Clive posted The world's a safer place today (talking about the Obama victory), took some flack about posting something political, so he wondered if things were a bit too serious.
One anonymous reader commented that he or she was "close to dropping you from my feed list, as I've had about enough of the irrelevant political commentary. Please get back to online learning, instead of pretending to be a political pundit."
He mentions something that I just felt through my poor choices with Little Sandwiches. A time when I should have held back. Clive tells us:
But the response to my Obama posting has made me think that perhaps the situation does change once you get a wide readership, and that this probably does places an extra responsibility on you, the blogger. Having a readership gives you power, not to influence voting in an election of course, but certainly to influence buying decisions and choices as far as e-learning is concerned. If you don't take that responsibility seriously, you can hurt people that don't deserve to be hurt.
What that gets us to then is having to decide what we can/should write. We need to censor ourselves. Dan Roddy talked about the issue of holding back:
There are posts that I've started that I've never published since they run contrary to my employer's position on the matter, or pieces that I've re-read and dropped since they could be interpreted as a critique of work by colleagues and clients (or even my own) that some people may not interpret as being helpful. There posts where I've simply not been comfortable with the way that I've articulated by point and I've left them with the intention of coming back to edit them and, well, they're still waiting. Heck, there are even comments that I would like to have made on other people's blogs that I've pulled after typing.
My guess is that most of us have gone through a bit of transformation learning when holding back makes sense. I probably suffer from not self censoring enough. But hopefully I'm learning to hold back.

When do you find yourself holding back?

10 comments:

jay said...

Hold back? Restraint is not in my repertoire. But I recognize this is a complex issue so I'll shoot off at the mouth now and revisit the topic after some reflection.

On Internet Time Blog, I write about anything that interests me. It's a smorgasbord of essays, travelogue, outing lame institutions, jokes, venting, interpretation of events, reflection on learning, art, and notes. My topic is me. I hope it helps the world in some little way, but that's not the purpose. For a while, the header was "Watch Jay Learn."

The informal learning blog began with publication of my book. Back when I naively thought that traditional publishers knew what marketing was, I grabbed the URL and wrote it into the book. The blog began with observations tightly tied to informal learning. Now that I see informal learning as a major part of life, my focus there is more diverse.

Most of my blog posts are stream-of-consciousness. I pick a topic and let it flow. I feel no obligation whatsoever to stay on topic. If people are looking for narrowly defined, specialist discussion, they'll quickly learn my blogs are not for them. If they are seeking thoughts without borders, they may find my writing appealing.

Blogs began as personal statements. Corporate blogs probably need to hold back, but were I to do so, I'd feel like a phony.

Ole Kristensen said...

Well the freedom of speech includes the right to shut up - or hold back.

Byron said...

I, for one, find myself holding back quite a lot. I look at my blog just the same as any other conversation I might have, with two crucial caveats:

1. I have no idea who is listening.
2. Once you put something out on the Internet, you can never take it back.

Tony Karrer said...

Jay - thanks for the thoughts on this. Like you, I have a tendency to say what I'm thinking. But once in a while that turns out to be damaging to someone and then I feel bad.

Ole - good point.

Byron - it's funny because I was just saying how I think about my audience in terms of this singular prototype. I also need to think about everyone as an audience. And everyone for all eternity. And boy will we all seem stupid in a few years. :)

Wendy said...

My employer reads my blog, so the times when I hold back are the times when the situation makes everyone look bad and there is no silver lining.

If there is something educational in the situation that I would like to share, and it potentially makes my employer look bad, I vet it with them first.

I'm also very careful to disguise the players - good and bad.

In my mind, it is a respect thing. I wouldn't want people saying nasty things about me behind my back. Do unto others....

Joitske Hulsebosch said...

Hi, I hold back a lot because I know people involved may read my blog. But I try to push it too because the attractive thing about learning through blogs is opening up honest thoughts and feelings!

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Tony

This is a question I've asked myself many times. I even posted about the related issue of 'When To Post'.

I must admit that I'm with Jay, for it's not my style to hold back either.

But as an aside, the post I've linked to here was very popular and still is. I'd predict that you've hit a winner with this one on a similar topic.

Catchya

J. Shoaf said...

The only thing I know about the people who read my blog is that they have an interest in eLearning. I think of it like I'm at a eLearning conference and meeting someone for the first time. Does it make since to talk about a divisive political opinion? Does it make since to talk about the nasty blister I got running the other day? No. But it does make since to talk about why I think Wimba Pronto is a cool product.

Sure my blog is really about me and my journey but by it's nature a blog is also about the audience and I think I'll get better results if I respect my audience by allowing them to make decisions for themselves and not pushing a political agenda on them. There are other avenues for that and I'd prefer to let my blog stay professional.

Tom mentioned about censoring because of an employer and I think that discretion is needed when you are blogging about your organization. The biggest mistake most people make is using their blog to vent or express discontent. A blogger would be better off focusing on the issue and not the decision making process of their organization. That can come back to bite you.

Free speech is great, but so is respect for one another.

jadekaz said...

While NSFW, R rated, and inappropriate (maybe I should hold back on this), I finally remembered what your post reminded me of. Chris Rock had a short bit about self-censoring related to "power" in his stand-up act, Kill the Messenger. Here's a link to the clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-V5oShfmllQ#t=2m21s

gminks said...

I hold back alot. I never blog about the specifics of what I am working on. Sometimes I am developing content for a product that is not GA, so I have to hold back. I also hold back if I can't decide if the post would expose some strategy I shouldn't expose.

I also hold back if I think its something my mom would not like. I call it the mama rule.