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New Directions in Personal Publishing
from point of view to online presence...

by Christopher Locke

  The World Wide Web has made publishing far more accessible to anyone who wants to get into it. But who would want to? Why should anyone care? This article is an attempt to answer some fundamental questions along these lines. Basically, it's an exploration of why people write and what they read for. I hope what follows will surface some not-so-obvious advantages of personal web publishing -- to online authors, to online audiences, and to the sites that host their critical intersection.
When is a Writer
Not a Writer?
While I often call myself a writer today, I didn't always think of myself this way. I started out as someone with a point of view that I wanted very much to express. Combining words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs just happens to be one way to do that. And a very effective way at times. But I didn't say to myself, "Gee, I wonder how I can turn into a writer" -- and then go looking for something to write about.

The point of view came first.

Similarly, this article isn't intended for people who think of themselves as writers. Quite the contrary. It's for people who might never have seriously considered writing, who can hardly imagine themselves doing such a thing. After all, writing is for journalists and book authors, right?

Well, right and wrong. It used to be that, outside of the occasional letter to the editor, writing was pretty much limited to such professionals. In 1961, media critic A.J. Liebling quipped: "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one" -- the obvious implication being that if you didn't own one, you could basically go fish.

But things have changed since then. A lot. If you're reading this on the web, you do "own one." The rest of this is intended to help you figure out how best to use it, to encourage non-writers to write and non-publishers to publish, and to explain the upside of expressing that point of view you care so much about. Of course, if you don't have one of those, then you might as well stop reading right here.

But I'm willing to bet you do.

Anyone with any kind of audience -- consultants, lawyers, teachers, marketing types, sm