Tag Archives: credit

Referencing… why don’t you DIE?

3 May

A friend of mine told me a story about how one of her peers over-reacted to her use of, what was deemed to be, “sensitive, company IP” (intellectual property), and her subsequent crucifiction for plagiarism, lack of ethics, morals, scruples, team spirit, yadda, yadda, yadda…

This friend (let’s call her Florinda) had been assigned the task of adapting resources. She had to take materials that were being used in face-to-face teaching, and convert them to a format that would work in an online environment. Therefore, Florinda set about “translating” lengthy, dreary handouts into something more functional, agile and appropriate for online delivery.

Not surprisingly, she decided to go with prezi, and it worked wondrously well. In fact, so delighted was Florinda with her creation, that she twittered, facebooked, and linkedin the prezi to all her contacts, family and friends, so they could bask in her newly-developed prezi skills.

Unfortunately, shocking as it sounds, not all her friends in the social media universe were “real” friends, and before she could say: “What the…” her peer caught wind of the situation, and  slammed her on company e-mails, demanding recognition for the “years” of work that had been put into the original handouts, which she had so wondrously adapted.

Now, while credit should be given where credit is due, authorship is not an easy thing to determine. Where does one’s obligation to recognise, and reference, sources begin and end?

According to this post by Matt Haig, there’s a British literary critic called Christopher Booker, who says that there are only 7 original plots, which all stories derive from.

Ok, so… am I supposed to find the original author of the specific plot, which this post about Florinda derives from, and credit him/her for it?

More importantly: Do I reference Matt Haig or Christopher Booker as the source? Maybe it was even said by someone else first… should I investigate further? I mean, seriously, since people seem to be screaming for credit, let’s at least give it to the truly original authors, yeah?

Yep… easier said than done. Then there’s the issue of appropriate referencing systems.

“Do you use the Harvard system? No? APA then? Hmmm… then that comma shouldn’t be there, and silly you; forgot to put the title in italics… tsc, tsc, tsc…”

So, the question begs to be asked: With the web being the plethora of cross-referenced information that it is, how can we possibly reference accurately?

And if the goal is to give credit, who do we give it to?

Plus, if the aim is to provide our readers with the source of  information, why not just hyperlink? How about tagging?  Anyone heard of twitter? It’s the interwebz, for crying out loud!

Oh, and apparently the prezi that caused all the comotion didn’t even have “original” information on it. It was just the standard, Harvard style rules for referencing, which are available anywhere, to anyone.

So, to prove a point, I’ve taken the liberty of adapting Florinda’s prezi and making it public.  Yet, I’ve got no one to credit but Florinda, who chooses to remain anonymous. Have a look.