The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Who owns a blog?

Who owns a blog? You might think this a funny question, but recently, I have come to observe that the READERS think they own a blog. I shall explain.

Not infrequently, I receive comments from readers, either approving of certain kinds of articles, and requesting more of them, or disapproving of certain kinds of articles and requesting fewer of them. Sometimes, however, I detect a proprietorial tone in the comments that seems to be saying: "I am the reader, it is MY blog experience and so it MUST be this way." I find this attitude both odd, and intriguing.

In my experience, bloggers don't make any money from blogging. They write because they have something they wish to say. In this sense, the blog is the ultimate writer's medium - in that it is written purely out of the free will of the writer, usually for no other purpose than expressing his or her thoughts. It is not a monetary situation, as other writing situations are. No matter how well I write, I will not make any money out of it. No one is going to pay me for a particularly thoughtful or insightful blog post. Indeed, the only thing that keeps blog writers writing is the fact that most of them love to write...otherwise, why bother?

The readers who make demands upon me, to write in particular ways, do not seem to understand my position as a blogger. There is no compensation for me, to write, at all. There most probably never will be. I could blog for the rest of my life (which I may do) and I will make nothing at all out of it, in monetary terms. I will, however, have done one thing: I will have expressed my views on things that matter to me. I will have inscribed a portrait of my self, in some indirect way, in how I write and in what I choose to write. I will, therefore, have expressed myself, day by day, year by year. That is all it will do. There will never be a tangible financial reward for having done so.

Readers who think they own the blog are thinking only of themselves - of what they want and of their needs. This is, I suppose, an easy trap to fall into. Nothing, I suppose, could be easier, for some people, than thinking only of themselves. However, they should realize that the blogger is someone else, whom they will never meet and who DOES NOT KNOW THEIR CONCERNS. The blogger does not write to please a particular individual for then they become a writer for hire, as it were, even if no payment is made. A blogger writes because there is something of interest to them in that moment: it is an expression of the thoughts of the present. Therefore, to demand of the blogger that they write in a particular way and of particular subject matter, is to demand that the blogger change, that the blogger should become someone else. In fact, it is a demand that the blogger cease to be a blogger and become a writer for hire.

If a blogger is true to themselves, they will, over time, cover all subjects and areas that are natural to them. There will, in that spectrum of articles, be material that pleases many people. However, no blogger should be required to focus on a particular type of article, from that repertoire, since that would be to distort the truth of themselves, it would be to slant it, in an unbalanced fashion, in a particular direction.

If a reader likes one article type that the blogger writes, then the reader should be patient enough to let the blogger write such articles, as and when they are moved to do so and read their other article types, in between, as background that allows a better understanding of the blogger/writer. The reader should not demand of the blogger to cease writing particular types of articles to focus on the type that they like, because that introduces inauthenticity into the blogger's work. The blogger will no longer be true to the moment and to themselves if they blog on demand, in this way.

I will write what I wish to write, when I wish to write it. That is, in fact, the attraction of blogging. There is no editor with a decision over whether or not any particular thought may be published, there is no publisher to say "The market isn't big enough for that!", there is only the thought and the wish to communicate it - along with the unparalleled ability to do so, at the press of a key.

I do take note of the readers comments over what they do and do not like. However, I also note the proprietorial attitude of some of them - and this concerns me. The reader does not own the blog - just as the reader does not write the blog. To expect the blogger to write on demand is to completely destroy the meaning of what it is to blog. So, I am not going down that path. I will write what it occurs to me to write on any particular day.

At the same time, I am happy to have readers and enjoy my correspondence with them. Yet, the day I allow myself to be dictated to, by the more vocal readers and have my work determined by them, is the day that I should really cease to write. I won't do that. I will write what I wish to, when I wish to...and hope that some people, at least, appreciate it enough to read it.

Thank you.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: Thanks.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 3:29 PM 


Blogger Indiana said...

Well written...but...

(lol...I always love the buts ~grin~)

Blogging is a symbiotic relationship. It is dependent on readers and to deny that readership is an important factor in blogging is to fail to accept this relationship.

If one truly only blogs for self, then buy a journal, grab a pen, or send the blog private...which is the second thing I would say to anyone who claims to blog only for self...the first being, bullshit.

A public blog is a discourse between your readership and your thoughts, it is a discussion in which while the writer initiates topics the readers are free to respond using any/and all emotions.

But the relationship is symbiotic. The readers look for stimulation from the writer and likewise the writer gains inspiration from the readers, both contribute and both are important.

While I agree that the writer is the "owner" of the blog, without it's readers, and acknowledgment (even if only to self) of the importance they play in the process, a blog is just not a blog. So while the writers words are the catalyst for the discourse, it is the readership that makes the blog truly a place to return to.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Indiana,

I fear you have missed the point of my post. I was not denying the importance of readers, I was denying that any one reader should dictate the content of a blog. It is ludicrous that an individual reader can think that they can determine the content of someone else's blog merely because they prefer certain types of articles over others. What is really important to note in this matter is that the different demanding readers in question each have CONFLICTING demands: they are not all asking for the same thing. Thus, it is impossible to meet their demands, in any way, at all, without simultaneously failing to meet the demands of other readers. Hence, I said, above, that readers should wait, patiently, until the type of article they enjoy recurs naturally - which it will - rather than seeking an artificially inflated concentration of that type of article.

Thanks for your comment.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said, Mr Cawley.

You are the owner of your blog, so you call the shots.

While readers may participate in what goes on in the blog, such participation has to be on the terms set by the blog owner.

Personally, I do not think it is bad form if a reader were to ask (respectfully, of course) the blog owner whether he could write something on a given topic.

However, a reader would be crossing the line if his message comes across simply as "I want you to write this; I don't want you to write that" with no thought of who owns the blog.

This is an indication of extreme self-centredness and self-absorption. I just hope that such readers are not representative of society as a whole.


9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i guess it was my comment which sparked this article. I was actually trying to say that by calling it "scientific child prodigy" you are misleading us when you talk about current affairs, you should have called it "the Valentine view". You seem to have been very offended because you have misunderstood my point.

1:12 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, Clunies-Ross, for your clearly expressed understanding of the situation.

Yes. It is fine to suggest that something is written...but not fine to demand that a blog become a particular type, for the pleasure of one reader.

There have been a fair number of such commenters...but they are in the minority.

Kind regards

9:01 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Rachael,

Look again at your comment. It doesn't mention "scientific child prodigy" at all. Anyway, you are one of a fair number of people who request a particular type of article in preference to other types. I thought it best to explain my view on such a practice - and explain how it would damage the essence of what it means to blog, at all, to do so.

All types of article will be written at the right time, when it feels right to do so. I hope to have your patience in that regard.

"Offended" is the wrong word...I am not offended...however, it is a practice that would limit my freedom to write, if implemented. It is that to which I object.

Kind regards

9:05 AM  
Blogger Indiana said...

Maybe it has something to do that in this insta-microwave-McDonalds-Now-time pressured world we want not only our pleasures instantly, but we also want our stimulation the way we want it with no questions asked...

8:37 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, Indiana, the focus of people is ever more on "me"...yet, such a focus is not possible, of course, when other people are involved.

A writer of any kind can never compromise by writing for a particular person, unless it is a personal letter. Public writing must not be circumscribed in this way...

Thanks for your comment.

8:41 AM  
Anonymous KC said...

Interesting thoughts. I am a blogger (I actually have 3 for different purposes) for over a year now. I write what I want to write about. I have a small amount of readers. I started out writing for myself, to cope with the loss of career and identity when I became a stay at home mom, it evolved into helping others who might have a child struggling with selective mutism as I do, and mutated into a conversation about dealing with adult giftedness and what to do when you find yourself with many passions but no direction or traits others think are negative but are really not in the context of giftedness.

There are some topics that generate that symbiosis/synergy Indiana remarks on, and there are some that just fall flat and no one cares about. It's all good.

So far I haven't run off any readers or offended any, but I know I'm not going to please them all so one day I might. I tend to steer clear of controversial topics on my blog, but have no qualms engaging in controversial topics on other blogs (perhaps cowardice on my part?).

I blog because it's my way to think and process and evolve. People can join me or not as I discover things about myself or prune away bad habits or simply vent my frustrations.

I do enjoy the friends I've made through blogging due to having things in common with them. There are also many who stumble across my blog but never reply. I've had challenges to some recent posts, but not really negative ones, just someone helping to expand or clarify some things.

I love this quote from Kazimierz Dabrowski,

"We feel comfort among those who agree with us – growth among those who don’t."

Peace, and blog what you wanna blog about!

10:42 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for your portrait of your blogging experience, KC. I hope you carry on writing.

As for me: I shall continue to write about what I wish, and hope that some, at least, find it of interest...but I am not going to become someone who writes to order (on my blog, anyway).

Kind regards

10:52 PM  

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