Stick your head above the parapet and await incoming. It’s a thought that occurred to me after a poster to an online forum pitched in with comment on MuzoBlog’s editorial voice, adding to a number of emails I’ve received from folk who seem a mite confused about the site’s raison d'être. That I should have the temerity to stand up and make my voice heard on the interweb is bound to invite sniping, made all the easier thanks to the the online anonymity behind which detractors lurk. But what the hey. My skin is thick, my testes large. The main whinge is that there’s too much of ‘me’ in the copy. It doesn’t read like the neutral, detached commentary you’d find in a print magazine or commercial online publication. The reviews are written in the first person from personal perspective, both informally and attitudinally, and I might even cuss a little along the way. Well let’s clear things up, shall we?
My name is Karl Foster. I’m human, am an individual and have a long-abiding passion for making music. I have opinions I’d like to express, enjoy writing and welcome the opportunity to engage in discussion of music, guitars, other music technology, psychology, motorbikes, Russian language, diabetes and the latest episode of House. MuzoBlog covers the first three interests (still working on the guitar content, however) and you know what? It’s a music-technology BLOG. It is not an online magazine or platform for puff-pieces. It’s not deliberately written in journalese - indeed, much of what I’ve posted would have come hurtling back to my desk if submitted to an even semi-competent sub-editor. This I know.
After working as a reporter, I moved to the subs’ desk, prior to occupying the editor’s chair on a number of print and online publications. If one of my staff had submitted a piece written in bloggerese, out would have come the metal bucket, cigarette lighter and hardcopy, all ready for the humiliating ritual of torching. Yes, I’ve seen it done. MuzoBlog is written in blog-speak, as distinct from journalism as the language of the diary is from that of autobiography. Shimmy around the personal blogosphere. You’ll find everything from outpourings of disgust at some social injustice or other to what the cat puked up that morning. My view is that a non-commercial blog is an open letter to whomsoever wishes to read it. Personal weblogs host posts that are personal and can be opinionated; in some cases drivel, in others engaging, while in others polemical.
A blog contains more considered expression than you’d find in a Facebook wall-post or 140-character tweet. It’s not firing from the hip with the first thing that comes into the poster’s brains. A friend of mine, Syren of Cook Island, takes time to observe and blog, most entertainingly, the political and social aspects of her oft insular community, but she suffers the same afflictions as I. She is both a compulsive commentator and an experienced journalist, so while her posts are personal, they almost read like the kind of feature material you’d find in Time magazine or the comment columns of Sunday newspapers. Once you’re steeped in journalese, its tenor tends to suffuse all written expression. Even my birthday card greetings have a whiff of reportage about them. If ever I were to write a novel, I feel sure each chapter would begin with the ‘bong’ of Big Ben.
This is where confusion arises with MuzoBlog. It’s my blog, I can write about what I want, how I want and relax a little with wordplay, but still the patois of the journalist seeps in, rendering certain passages into a mag or newsrag-journo tone. Contrary to the opinion of some, I get paid not a cent for the articles I write. Revenue from the Google ads you see on each page is meagre to say the least (I’m talking pence here), but money is not the motivator. MuzoBlogging keeps my hand in as a writer, my profile up in the industry and provides opportunity to get in-depth, hands-on experience of the very latest muzo gadgetry so I can make more informed buying decisions. So why not pass on that experience to others while having a gas with the joy of language? A blog seems the ideal way of doing so.
You may notice that my reviews are, in the main, positive. The reason being is that I have neither the time nor inclination to review every muzo product launched, so whatever ends up under the MuzoBlog microscope will have likely piqued my interest already. I’m not interested in looking at duff stuff - I’d rather expend my energies on products that show promise and promise to be fun to explore. Sure, I’ll pick holes where the developer has missed a trick, but am quite ready to laud the neater features that are relevant to the way I make music. And if the way I work syncs with the way you operate, great. If not, well no-one’s forcing you to visit the site, but my hope is that you still might glean a useful thing or two from my meditations.
So, that’s MuzoBlog. It’s a blog about whatever I care to write about and in whichever way I care to write it. You’ll find a lot of Karl in the copy because I’m the person opining and I don’t have a publisher, marketing monkey or advertising clients breathing down my neck. All to the good, really, because I’m not obliged to pull punches, as is common practice in commercial publishing. The worst that can happen, short of being hauled before the beak for commercial libel or inadvertent copyright infringement, is that a manufacturer, developer or distributor takes a huff and stops lending me product. But in my experience, most are broad-shouldered enough to take warranted criticism, provided they’re assured that critics know their onions.
Well, I don’t know everything, but a journalist’s training and experience make ferreting out salient stuff that much more slick. Especially when working in a specialist sphere that contains a passion. Mine is music, its creation and the tools used so to do, hence muzo, and I get a kick out of messing, informally, with words, hence blog. Could be you’re a true muzo, too, although the dictionary has it that a muso is a musician overly concerned with technique. Good job I spell it with a ‘z’, for ‘zealous’, which sums up my enthusiasm for the subject. Anyway, enough about me. How are you doing? There’s a panel for your comments below y’know.
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