Plagiarism is apparently rampant in the Blogosphere… Oh dear…
One thing that is clear to me as I scan blogs is that few are content originators. Most are what I call “content illuminators“. These are people who take other content and cast a new light on it with thoughtful observations and commentary. The majority seem to be “content pointers” – directing readers to news and views of interest.
The BG piece seems to confuse, at times, plagiarism and content origination. There is a difference between pointing to and illuminating others work and representing their content as your own. Maybe I misread the piece. My rules are simple – where you exclusively became aware of something via another blogger, show a little link love. And, do unto others as you’d have them do to you – don’t knowingly steal content.
And, there is the story on the front page of the FT last week (Lucy Kellaway’s piece in the FT is worth the subscription price alone…) of the Raytheon CEO who’s book – Unwritten Rules of Management – Raytheon distributed more than one-quarter of a million copies of. As the FT tells it:
“… a young engineer who spotted that 17 of the rules bore an uncanny resemblance to a book called The Unwritten Laws of Engineering published in 1944 by W.J. King. The young man wrote this up in his blog. From there, the story made it into newspapers.” FT
Eventually his board nailed him by requiring him to forgo his pay rise for the year. It seems they have pulled the Rules, but here is a pretty good synopsis.
. . . this is the second problem with plagiarism. It is not merely extremist. It has also become disconnected from the broader question of what does and does not inhibit creativity. We accept the right of one writer to engage in a full-scale knockoff of another—think how many serial-killer novels have been cloned from “The Silence of the Lambs.” Yet, when Kathy Acker incorporated parts of a Harold Robbins sex scene verbatim in a satiric novel, she was denounced as a plagiarist (and threatened with a lawsuit). When I worked at a newspaper, we were routinely dispatched to “match” a story from the Times: to do a new version of someone else’s idea. But had we “matched” any of the Times’ words—even the most banal of phrases—it could have been a firing offense. The ethics of plagiarism have turned into the narcissism of small differences: because journalism cannot own up to its heavily derivative nature, it must enforce originality on the level of the sentence.