Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Blogging and the Real You

In the world of blogging the Persona is 'Quing' (great portmanteau RR btw) and much is written about 'finding your voice', finding the style and tone or writing that is unmistakeably YOU.

Think about any of your favourite Bloggers...Would you be able to tell if someone took over their Blog for a month? Is there something in their turn of phrase, the idiom they use that tells you the real from the false?

As social animals we seem to be designed to be able to sense lack of authenticity and when gullibility happens our ability to do this fails. I would recommend anyone interested in this topic to read Pine & Gilmore's book called spookily Authenticity. They have come up with a neat 2*2 matrix that helps you position things in terms of how real and false things are. They classify things as:

is or is not what it says it is and...

is or is not true to itself

In this way people, organisations products services etc can be positioned in one of four places. Something that is Real Real (truly authentic) is what is says it is and is true to itself. Something that is False False is the direct opposite. This Blogger could be classed as Fake Real because I blog as RR not my real name and so I am not what I say am I but I am true to myself. Pine and Gilmour use Disney as an example here. Real Fake is the world of the deceiver, the world of platitudes and company mission statements you know the sort of stuff like 'we are a people company', 'I'm here to help you, 'work hard and you'll be rewarded' etc this is the place where we are most gullibly vulnerable. Most of us can spot Fake Fake a mile off although the really uncritical can get seriously duped here.

Face to Face or Facade to Facade we rely on lots of sensory input to help us make our decisions about authenticity, often this is rolled up into the subject of body language although we do pick up on tonality and rhythm of the spoken voice too.

What happens with writing though?

Dr Tim Grant of Aston University UK is an expert in this area and has developed ways of telling who the author of a text is. This has proved invaluable in solving murders and terrorist offences.

In the slightly less life threatening environment of academia (although that is less certain claim these days!) there is a continual 'assignment arms race' being run to detect that wonderfully studious thing known asPlagiarism That's cheating to you and I. You probably know there are sites where you can buy pre-prepared assignments and in order to check submissions in this wonderfully open and digital world we live in the web service Turnitin has been created for well intentioned students and suspicious tutors to check work for originality.

Invariably those most susceptible to being tempted to cheat are non-english speaking students. However they fall fair and square into the Real Fake zone. Many fail to realise that after a 12 week semester a tutor has a pretty good feel for their spoken expression, their vocabulary and tonality. It should come as no surprise therefore that when you get a piece of work that says something like:

"Given the assertion that Black et al make in their conceptual review of a priori assumptions about the marketing philosophy" things don't stack up and they don't stack up because of the experience of the reader. A particular skill of tutors borne out of reading hundreds of assignments and scores of books is a sense of authors voice.. We all have that skill to some degree of other.

So which is the real me?

Blogging is a really wicked thing to do 'cos its on the edge.

Blogging implies a deep seated concern with fundamental philosophical forces

Blogging facilitates the unfettered expression of individual creativity

Blogging lets you blast off on the stuff that rocks your boat

Blogging is my window on the world and the fog horn of my feelings

Blogging is an awesome way to monetize your content and kick the day job

Blogging is a complex social phenomenon whose explanation remains confused and opaque

Blogging is the digital version of 'Can You Hear Me Mother'

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