Intellectual Property Theft
Regarding intellectual thief in the blogosphere, in my opinion, one particular type is more disheartening than various other types. For example, I am not referring to criticism or oppositional opinions, because when doing that, usually one must allude to, link, wink-wink, or quote in order for readers to develop an understanding of what is being conveyed (or trying to be conveyed). Besides, usually upfront techniques are too inflammatory and may distract from the original intent.
No, I have a problem when one person’s original thought is repeated or expanded upon by another person/author/writer/blogger, and instead of publicly acknowledging the original author, in substitute there is a superficial show or pretense of mutual respect, or a lack of acknowledgement all together. The latter being the worst.
The biggest pretense of mutual respect in the blogosphere seems to be the Hat Tip. H/Ts (including any I have previously engaged in) are lazy loopholes represented by disingenuous veneers. H/Ts are nothing more than the same bullshit type disclaimers found on products that risk management teams write for corporations to avoid and mitigate liability. For instance, I have a new heating pad with just the type of nonsense I am talking about. The heating pad lists things the manufacturers do not recommend to the consumer, knowing damn well if the consumer did none of those things, then the heating pad would not be wanted or consumed. To me it is just another example of how corporative cultivation has permeated into every aspect of our lives. Nothing is sacred from the corporate mindset, not even thought. However, I will admit even though H/Ts are frivolous and not substantial enough to excuse the crime, it is at least an acknowledgement, albeit a minuscule one.
“Although I immediately went back and wrote up something damn near verbatim to what you wrote, I added my own personal flavour (voice) and decided not to acknowledge your contribution for invoking my thoughts. If confronted however, because I don’t have mutual respect for you, I am going to pretend like I did not see your comment, post, entry, or admit to lurking at the place of your comment, post, or entry and in turn, accuse you of being irrational, jealous, slanderous, or flat out crazy, and people will believe me, because who are you compared to me?”
Of course, a person can always be wrong, but that is the rub. Doubt is often used to abuse, and to get away with dishonesty, because, nothing is ever beyond a reasonable doubt, it is impossible for it to be, because not everyone defines reasonable and doubt in the same way. Nevertheless, there are circumstances, repeated circumstances that are more than coincidental and the person whose thoughts have been stolen senses it more often than she/he does not.
Failure to acknowledge a person’s contribution (be it if you like them or not) is destructive because it a form of disrespect, a failure to extend dignity, and an obvious example of squandered opportunity to build bridges of solidarity (even if that solidarity is no more than a gesture, seeing that the actualisation of such a concept is somewhat impossible in our current culture). Granted, not everyone needs validation, which is essentially what acknowledgement is, however, practicing validation seems to encourage more than it discourages, unlike the discouragement a lack of acknowledgement creates. It is not even as if everyone needs or wants credit. Often people will say when asked, “No, you don’t need to credit me.” At least they asked though. Asking is an acknowledgement in itself.
I would say there is an element of sadomasochism in the person who cannot give credit where credit is due, a joy in knowing that they have stolen something from someone else and used it for their benefit. It is a deficiency if not a defect in character.