Free speech

[Original Link] Dave Winer hits on what is, for me, a key attraction of weblogs:

“On my weblog no one can change what I wrote. In contrast, having written for professional publications, pros have to prepare for their writing being interfered with. Sometimes you submit right at the copy-edit deadline. Or you write exactly the required number of words so nothing can be cut. But in the end, the words that appear are an amalgam of what your organization thought should be said on the subject you’re addressing.”

Exactly this has happened to me, most recently writing for the Communications of the ACM and the IEE Review. The dear old CACM, for example, objected to my use of the phrase “three score years and ten”, presumably as requiring too much education on the part of its readers. Sad to see such dumbing down in what used to be an academic journal. They admitted it, too, though with the qualifier, “…we call it ‘mainstreaming'”.

The Review editors, on the other hand, introduced typos, while cutting out entire paragraphs, with the result that I appeared to be arguing the opposite point from my intended one, and doing so incompetently. This was done at the last minute, of course, after I had approved another version.

In both of these cases, it’s only really my wounded pride that bothers me, because despite their large distribution numbers, I doubt very many people actually read that sort of journal any more. I care less about the mangling of my words than that my name is still associated with them afterwards! I make lots of mistakes and stylistic errors too, of course, but at least here I can fix them before too many people notice.

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© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser