Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Are we all copycats?

Today on the old beebs website I came across an article about some recent plagiarism scandals that have come to light. What has the world come to when people writing doctoral theses give into the temptation of using the old copy and paste function?

Well, with a never-ending database of information at our fingertips you can forgive them, just a little. Perhaps not the people writing theses, but undergraduates we can sympathise with. I'm sure my older crowd of readers (if I have any...?!) will tell all students out there that they don't know how lucky they are not to have to trawl through libraries when you can sit at home, in bed, with a cuppa, and write an essay. It is just too tempting to use the wonders of Google, be struck by someone elses words and decide that you must have them as your own.

On a side note, I did quite like being surround by big textbooks, but I'd still do it in bed.

It can be said that there is a thin line between inpiration and plagiarism. That big difference being that plagiarism does not give credit to its inspiration. A young artist might have a beauty acting as his muse, but he must proclaim to the world that she is her inspiration; she should be given her just deserts.

I agree with something this article points out, in that it's okay to quote someone. In fact, the best essays are littered (to an extent...let's be reasonable, some of the words have to be your own) with sections from outside sources, points drawn in from various people to enhance the quality of your arguement or research. This was not stressed enough to me, or many others I knew, in my first year of university.

This has also sparked off a debate about the end of originality; has the internet destroyed it? Has it made everything too easy? You can literally type anything into a search engine and it will come up with dozens, thousands, millions of pages for you to extract from and comprise as your very own.

Once I read this article (and you see I've linked to it in fear of not mentioning my original source...) a wave of guilt washed over me. Has my blog recently just been one big torrent of regurgitated drivel I've come across on the world wide web? Well, I'd have to say, probably yes.

Then again, I think there can be something different said for blogging. A lot of the blogs I have read, blogs that are not directly about one subject like travel or someone's poetry etc. are much more about a place for someone to expose their opinions on whatever is going on in the world around them; a commentry on the things they find interesting. If you wish to share your own thoughts on it, then why not? Blogging is a free space for you to make it your own.

Is there anything out there that hasn't been written about before? Does that make me unoriginal? And, is looking something up to provoke some thought in my head as to my own opinion really so bad?

(And, does that get me off the hook?)

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