Plagiarism or Creativity

Here are my thoughts after taking in the following links: a) Jonathan Lethem’s The Ecstacy of Influence: A Plagiarism; b) On the Rights of the Molotov Man: Appropriation and the Art of Context; c) Allergy to Originality and d) Kirby Ferguson’s Embrace the Remix.

I personally believe that when we create we draw references from other experiences. Through our observations, acquired knowledge, and other experiences we process and come up with our own creative expressions. I find that at the moment this is how I create. My personal preferences and opinions dictate how I present these ‘replicated’ ideas into fruition. In this sense, I agree with Kirby Ferguson when he says ‘everything is a remix’.

We build on the work of others. We see this happening in industries. In the fashion industry seasonal trends are created on the runways and replicated by designers and fashion labels. The runway designers admit to being inspired by previous iconic trends. It’s cyclical.

There are not many concepts or creations that are brand new. They either borrow from previous research in particular fields and build upon them or plagiarize. In our first Applications class a reference was drawn to the pioneering Wright Brothers who created the aircraft. After the class I met with another ITPer who declared that it was a Brazilian, Alberto Santos-Dumont, who created the first aircraft! In Brazil he is known as the “father of flight”. If Santos-Dumont did indeed create his version of the aircraft before the Wright Brothers, did they plagiarize? or was it a coincidence that these two geographically separated inventors achieved the same result?

Anyone attempting to copyright or claim ownership for an invention or creation should ideally ask themselves whether they themselves borrowed from or were influenced by a previous creation or theory. I think if we considered this, the concept of ownership and sharing would change. Acknowledging that we are all influenced by something or the other would foster a change where we give credit to those we ‘borrow’ from – instead of solely seeking copyright for our renditions.

I didn’t want to make my ITP blog accessible to the public for the fear of falling victim to appropriation. If I create something that’s phenomenal I would be distraught if my idea was used and someone else received recognition for it. I’m still on the fence regarding this open source concept of sharing knowledge, simply because of the risk involved. I can only speak for myself and actions by knowing that I would not consciously replicate or attempt to gain credit for someone else’s creation. I can’t speak for others. Maybe I’ll add a disclaimer to my blog: ‘Don’t Steal My S*it!’


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