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Bloggers' Plagiarism Scientifically Proven 466

XiceeX writes "Wired has up a story about HP, as part of a larger drive to figure out how ideas ideas 'infect' large groups of people, scientifically proving what most people already knew: bloggers steal their ideas from other bloggers."
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Bloggers' Plagiarism Scientifically Proven

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  • duh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by eoyount ( 689574 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:26AM (#8475269)
    And that last story about Microsoft cameras was stolen directly from Yahoo. FP
    • by simpl3x ( 238301 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:56AM (#8475633)
      isn't that the purpose of the internet--interconnection? i look at various blogs not for news, but for filtered connections to stuff. "there is nothing new under the sun," as my grandfather used to say, and from an engineering/invention perspective this is very often the case. Nature is the most plagarized of all!

      but it's my idea...
      • "there is nothing new under the sun," as my grandfather used to say

        Your Grandfather plagiarized that from the author of Ecclesiastes. []

        How fitting ...

      • by Lawbeefaroni ( 246892 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @01:27PM (#8476644) Homepage
        What is the point of blogs though? I thought they were to convey some sense of individuality on the old interweb. Instead, in everyone's rush to be some kind of blog king, blogs are forcing people think and express themselves in the same way. Stealing someone's ideas means you can't or don't come up with your own.

        Giving into the "nothing new under the sun" just means that if there is, it won't be from you.

        • What is the point of blogs though? I thought they were to convey some sense of individuality on the old interweb. Instead, in everyone's rush to be some kind of blog king, blogs are forcing people think and express themselves in the same way. Stealing someone's ideas means you can't or don't come up with your own.
        • Blogs aren't necessarily for the individuality! I feel they primarily exist for a sense of community. You are reading that blog to join other like-minded people who you can converse with and talk about things that interest you. You don't browse blogs just so you can read some weirdo ranting on about some bizarro ideas they have. (unless you feel the same way... ;)

          In a society where small communities are nonexistent, I think blogs are filling a void. That void is a result of the changing world; before the

  • by turnstyle ( 588788 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:26AM (#8475276) Homepage
    It's "sharing"
    • by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:31AM (#8475357)
      t's what Open Source is all about: "sharing" other people's ideas and making sure they remain "shared".
      • Open Source is all about: "sharing" other people's ideas yes, but open source is also about contributing new stuff to the existing body of work. that's what we call "innovation" - which is another strong point of oss.
        • I'm pretty sure the overwhelming bulk of OSS is taking what has already been created in the proprietary world, emulating or outright copying it and then releasing it to everyone else as "free" software.

          Of course SOME actual innovation occurs but its very very minor.
          • by turnstyle ( 588788 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:43PM (#8476185) Homepage
            "I'm pretty sure the overwhelming bulk of OSS is taking what has already been created in the proprietary world, emulating or outright copying it and then releasing it to everyone else as "free" software."

            From my own experience, I've been working on my MP3 juke/server software Andromeda [] since about 1999. A few years later some guy came up with a GPL'd app Zina (Zina is not Andromeda, which he describes: "It is similar to Andromeda, but released under the GNU General Public License"). And, in turn, I've seen others with forked versions of Zina.

            So, I've certainly seen OS projects following a proprietary work, BUT I've also seen proprietary projects that follow other proprietary projects too.

            Most ideas are part of a flow, and I don't think that I would characterize OS as any more or less derivative than proprietary work -- except when it comes to the endless GPL forking.

            IMHO, the main problem with OS is that the coders aren't getting paid.

    • by andy666 ( 666062 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:33AM (#8475379)
      About how ideas 'infect' large groups of people, scientifically proving what most people already knew: bloggers steal their ideas from other bloggers. I will post them shortly.
      • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:18PM (#8475890) Homepage
        I think the false underlying assumptions here are that originality is always good and that if two people have the same idea one must have copied from the other.

        The idea that copying is bad is a recent one. Prior to the industrial revolution the highest form of the craftsman's art was often considered to be the ability to create perfect copies of other people's work. Innovation is a relatively new idea. If you go to recently industrialized countries the bias for originality is often absent.

        Several people have the same idea all the time. Whit Diffie was not the first to think up public key cryptography, but nobody claims he copied it off Cocks at GCHQ. I often take apart other people's schemes and find they have had ideas that are similar to my own.

        Invention is not just originality, it is also reuse of existing ideas, improving where necessary and useful. In many case it is the circumstances that lead to the result.

        Take a look at the Cagle cartoons on Slate. They have all the editorial cartoons from 40 odd papers across the country. The number of times that the same cartoon idea appears again and again is uncanny. These people might be copying to a small extent, but it simply isn't possible for them to all come out with the same idea in such a short time.

        I am probably not the only person who thinks that the latest '24x7' hunt for Bin Laden is something we should have been doing for the past two years. If you read the blogs you will find page after page of people outraged that the start of the hunt for Bin Laden seems to have been timed to coincide with the first Bush election ads. I doubt many of them have seen my slashdot .sig. Clearly much of this is independent thought.

        Blogs are an entertainment and a political movement. They are not academic journals or treatises. Not that there is much of importance or originality in the academic litterature. Sure people lift ideas but thats why most people are putting them out there.

        For years people have been asking if I am angry that Microsoft has copied many of my ideas. Oddly enough nobody has ever asked me if I minded other people copying my ideas (and passing them off as their own which Microsoft has never done), but that is another story. The fact is that I want people to use my ideas, they are useless unless they are put into action. Microsoft use a lot of my ideas because I spend a lot of time persuading them to use them. My principal complaint about Netscape is that they just shut themselves off from the Web community, they got the idea that they were the only people who had the good ideas.

    • Ideas are easy (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Moderation abuser ( 184013 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:43AM (#8475474)
      It's implementing them that is difficult...

      Which is why patents should only be granted the demonstration of a working example...

    • by andy666 ( 666062 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:51AM (#8475563)
      It's not stealing if you don't sell it. It's like punching someone in the dark - it's a victimless crime.
    • straw men, yay! (Score:5, Informative)

      by moral kiosk ( 532671 ) * on Friday March 05, 2004 @02:38PM (#8477433)
      The title of this Slashdot story, as well as most of the comments, have missed the point.

      I spoke with Lada Adamic Wednesday, and she gave a talk on this and several other of her research directions. They are not out to determine whether people plagiarize. They are interested in information flow within complex networks. That is to say, if I want to find good information, where should I look? The typical answer has been "those who agglomerate".

      It is no surprise to the HP group or anyone that some information sources are simply aggregating agents. But if your area of research is information flow in complex networks, this type of study contains many insights. For example, a common question is "what information nodes are important?". This study seeks to look beyond the naive answer "high-degree nodes" and attribute some importance, in an informational sense, to lower-degree nodes that act as sources for the network.

      The iRank scheme mentioned several times in the article, which I read, demonstrates this thrust. A scheme like PageRank will almost always rank most highly the aggregates, because they are highest-degree in terms of backlinks. But who is to say that such a ranking is optimal? If you care about quickly scanning much information, it probably is. But if you care about seeking more detailed or perhaps more well-informed sources of information on a topic, iRank may well be a closer-to-optimal scheme.

      The comments regarding this story have been a straw man excercise if i've ever seen one on Slashdot. HP doesn't spend its research money to find out that some information sources gather information from many others and distribute it widely. It does spend its money to find out more about how complex networks operate and how the flow of information can be analyzed and exploited to improve query responses in those networks.

  • I would have never guessed!

    In other news, sixth-graders routinely hand in articles copied verbatim from the World Book Encylopedia as "research papers".
  • wait (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DavidKirkBeale ( 747102 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:27AM (#8475290)
    Isn't that google search for Miserable Failure [] enough of an example?
  • Few Original Ideas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doesn't_Comment_Code ( 692510 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:27AM (#8475291)
    ...bloggers steal their ideas from other people.

    I've found that there are very few original thoughts or ideas, and very few people who come up with them. It isn't a matter of plagerism. It's just that there are only so many viable ideas out there. And the more that are already taken, the harder it is to come up with a new one. If you reach too far just to have an original thought, then you end up a wacko.

    It isn't just bloggers.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:34AM (#8475390)
      I do support plagiarism in one area: spelling. Please grab a dictionary and look up plagiarism. It's not spelled plagerism. Thanks.
    • by Dystopian Rebel ( 714995 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:39AM (#8475433) Journal
      I don't agree that there are "few original ideas" or there is "nothing new under the Sun". However, there are few original thinkers.

      If memory serves, a 19th century sociologist by the name of "Darde" posited that out of 100 people, 1 is truly creative and the remaining 99 are echoic.

      The research in question suggests the same. And so does the nature of television.

      • by Suidae ( 162977 )
        I wonder if the particular ratio of original thinkers to the rest of the population has been optimized by evolution. New ideas are good, but only if there are enough people to test them and filter out the stuff that doesn't work. If everybody was busy coming up with new ideas instead of using what they already had, the entire world would look like... well, like programming.
        • Yes, good thinking... it's a kind of social Quality Assurance team, doing the clicking and bounds-testing and pushing the "product" around.

          Notions have to be tested by application or creative misapplication. There's a certain prestige associated with showing good taste in your choosing what memes you "echo". There's a strong trace of that in blogging.

          It's interesting to consider humour memes, that is little bits of "humour" creativity (quirks, expressions, situations) that are widely echoed by televisio

      • by no longer myself ( 741142 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:31PM (#8476049)
        If memory serves, a 19th century sociologist by the name of "Darde" posited that out of 100 people, 1 is truly creative and the remaining 99 are echoic.

        So I guess we can rule you out of the 1% too?

        (Sorry, couldn't resist.) ;-)

      • First off, the HP technology is called iRank, whish is similar to Google's PageRank. So HP starts a research about lack of original ideas by modifying an idea from something else. Hmm...

        But what I really wanted to say was that there is no method to verify if the same person posted the blog idea to several different sites. It's quite common that someone would post an idea on their personal Blog, and subsequently submit it to SlashDot and Yahoo, etc.

        I'm trying to say that it's not necessarily plagurism,

      • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:52PM (#8476301)
        If memory serves, a 19th century sociologist by the name of "Darde" posited that out of 100 people, 1 is truly creative and the remaining 99 are echoic.
        Hence the rest of us peons are reduced to recycling the wisdom of long-dead academics. (get it?)

        Actually I mostly agree. Except I think everybody is at least slightly original, just to different degrees. Even Einstein's work wasn't a total discontinuity out of the blue.

        I like to rank originality, at least in science, by the number of years I guess it would have taken for the thing to be invented anyways, if the original inventor had not. The TV, for instance, was a virtual tie among several people.

        Back in the dark ages there weren't too many scientists and it was relatively easy to move a discovery up by 100 years IMHO. Nowadays so many people are working every problem that it's harder to jump ahead even by 1-2 years.

    • by AndrewWood ( 680668 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:41AM (#8475459) Homepage

      Right. It's also basic human nature. You know how there are some people who have great personalities, who speak like it is really them talking, who, while they are almost certainly not 100% original, still give that impression? Then, there are people who seem to have half a personality, who parrot excessively, who, when you're having a conversation with them, they keep picking up words you use and throwing them back at you, and you notice because it's mildly odd. Or maybe you overhear them repeating an idea that you know you formulated, but they're repeating it to somebody else and taking the credit.

      It seems to me that this article is merely pointing out that a lot of people are like the latter. I'm also not surprised to find lots of these types of people among bloggers, since so many are overt attention ho's, and attention ho's are often notorious "borrowers" of other people's personalities.

      (Mind, I'm not saying this of all bloggers, as I have found plenty of interesting, well-written, informative, and entertaining blogs. You know the kind I'm talking about.)

    • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:44AM (#8475501) Homepage
      I've found that there are very few original thoughts or ideas, and very few people who come up with them. It isn't a matter of plagerism. It's just that there are only so many viable ideas out there. And the more that are already taken, the harder it is to come up with a new one. If you reach too far just to have an original thought, then you end up a wacko.

      Interesting, as I've found that there are very few original thoughts or ideas, and very few people who come up with them. It isn't a matter of plagerism. It's just that there are only so many viable ideas out there. And the more that are already taken, the harder it is to come up with a new one. If you reach too far just to have an original thought, then you end up a wacko.

    • Us web "programmers" have been stealing back and forth the same piece of javascript since 1995... We call it "code resue" though =)
  • Bloggers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ckwop ( 707653 ) * <> on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:27AM (#8475292) Homepage
    Of course, this begs the question.. Why are the popular bloggers popular if other bloggers are thinking these ideas up first?

    I think it's the fact that the more popular bloggers put their ideas across in a clearer way than the less know bloggers..

    it's not the idea that's important.. it's how you present it.

    • Aggregators (Score:5, Insightful)

      by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:36AM (#8475411) Homepage Journal
      One reason is that good bloggers who don't have many original thoughts are good aggregators. They may or may not state the ideas in a clearer fashion. But they know what people are interested in and bring it together. That's one reason /. is popular. It's a collection of information you'd have to go to hundreds of other places to find yourself.
    • Re:Bloggers (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cecil ( 37810 )
      It does not beg the question. It raises the question. Please don't use that term unless you actually honestly know what the hell you're doing. "Begging the question" has nothing to do with an actual question anyway. If your statement has a question mark in it you're almost certainly NOT begging the question.
  • by sydlexic ( 563791 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:28AM (#8475294)
    The most-read webloggers aren't necessarily the ones with the most original ideas, say researchers at Hewlett-Packard Labs.

    Otherwise know as the 'Slashdupe' syndrome. One site is even know for it's inability to keep stories original within a 24 hour period.
    • syndrome... where somebody takes somebody else's commment, copies it enbloc, and reposts it in a higher subthread.

      The higher-posted comment gets "insightful" and "interesting" mods, while the lower post gets "redundant" mods, regardless of the fact that the lower comment was posted first.

      I think the Slashtrolls have turned this technique into an online sport.
  • by Paul Crowley ( 837 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:28AM (#8475299) Homepage Journal
    And another thing:

    Wired [] has up a story [] about HP, as part of a larger drive to figure out how ideas ideas 'infect' large groups of people, scientifically proving what most people already knew: bloggers steal [] their ideas from other bloggers.
  • by DakotaK ( 727197 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:28AM (#8475303)
    So that's why all the whiny angsty poetry on blogs looks the IS the same!
    /hates whiny teenage blogs
  • Steal? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cubicledrone ( 681598 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:28AM (#8475308)
    But, but, how can an idea be stolen? Isn't the whole point that ideas are supposed to be valueless since they can be copied effortlessly?

  • by musingmelpomene ( 703985 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:28AM (#8475309) Homepage
    Idea theft?

    You don't say!

    I suppose we're going to start burning Shakespeare's works because they were blatantly stolen from other writers, right?

    Idea modification and adaptation is not plagiarism - much of human progress in the arts has happened because of this phenomenon, and the internet neither started nor ended it.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:42AM (#8475463)
      The problem lies in the fact that the 21's century is the century of "MINE MINE GIMMIE GIMMIE!" where it's profitable to try and protect that which was traditionally openly shared over the past 5000 years.

      computers would be nothing like they are today (nor as cheap as) if it wasnt for "stealing" and "plagiarism" My god, Compaq stile IBM's IP and shout be punished severly! OMG! Texas Instruments STOLE the idea of a processor from Intel!

      today too many people are worrying about how to make the most money with the least effort..

      How about being proud of the fact that your idea is so good that everyone want's to copy it? and use that supposedly superior brain to tink up another one...

      that is why every "invention" I come up with I market the hell out of until I see copies show up on the market, then simply switch to something else after selling the rights cheaply to one of the copycats. (no I wont tell any of you what items I invented, many are gizmos for hunters and camping/hiking)

      The louder someone whines about stolen
    • But if Shakespeare were a blogger he'd put everyone else to shame. Few of his time were able to express things with as much passion. Almost no bloggers stand out to such an extent.

      Did I just write "But if Shakespeare were a blogger..."? Wow, that's a first...
  • So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by guarddonkey ( 669975 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:28AM (#8475312)
    So it's only one person's cat who did "the most amazing thing today" and only one person's friend "acted like my friend but was really just a big bitch all along" and everyone else is just copying? Oh to find that cat...
  • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:29AM (#8475320) Homepage Journal
    ... is slashdot considered a blog?

    If so, its quite well known it links to copyrightten articles all the time.
    • That's a very interesting one. Slashdot is definitely a blog in its layout of article and comments, but it also has news credibility that most blogs don't.

      It's kind of the difference between the tabloid news paper format, and the tabloid style of news reporting. There are some credible newspapers, such as the Boston Herald which publish in the tabloid shape. Meanwhile, the not so credible The Onion has a broadsheet shape.
  • Obviously (Score:5, Funny)

    by Strange Ranger ( 454494 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:29AM (#8475321)

    with four-hundred and eighty-nine quintillion-zillion blogs, how many did they think were going to be original?
  • by kompiluj ( 677438 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:30AM (#8475328)
    I think generally "stealing" gives high growth rates. In medieval times people were stealing ideas easily - this led to renaissance, arts and science as we know them were born. Scientists "steal" ideas - they modify other's ideas. This is how the progress works. Patents that would prevent any "stealing" like the last try from NEC on idea of nanotubes, not some way of making them is against progress. Perhaps you disagre...
  • Depends really (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ratface ( 21117 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:30AM (#8475331) Homepage Journal
    I mean my blog is more like an online journal of what I've been up to and been thinking about. It's very rare that I post memes or links to "popular" sites (though it does happen occassionally).

    I guess in this case they're referring to bloggers as people who blog lots of links. Maybe they're the majority of bloggers, but they're not the majority of *interesting* bloggers (imho!)

  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:30AM (#8475333)
    It's also how news spreads. Afterall, Slashdot is very rarely the first to report a story, it just links to somebody else who has posted information on a topic. From there, several other media outlets see the story on Slashdot and therefore report on it themselves.
  • Lobachevski (Score:5, Funny)

    by jefu ( 53450 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:31AM (#8475355) Homepage Journal
    Let no one else's work evade your eyes,
    Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
    So don't shade your eyes,
    But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize -
    Only be sure always to call it, pliz, 'research'.

    Shamelessly researched from a Tom Lehrer song.

  • by Melvin Daniels ( 757374 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:32AM (#8475366) Journal
    Has anyone else ever noticed how much blogs just reference eachother and talk about how amazing blogs are, while not really doing anything all that insightful or significant? Most of the time they just keep posting the same old thing you saw on that other guy's blog, while offering nothing new.

    I'm just suprised that this whole fad has lasted this long.

    Let's be realistic here. The scripting ability necessary to create a weblog is next to nil. It's not that amazing of a thing. It's a nice format, I'll give you that, but it doesn't deserve the hype. It's just about time that people start noticing this and pointing out the vapidity in the 'blogging scene'.
    • by addie ( 470476 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:04PM (#8475712)
      Oh please get off your high horse. I know exactly what you're saying, these things are pretty self-indulgent but so is posting on /. for the most part. Blogs are entertainment for many people, and there's a good reason for it. Blogs are free to read, often have discussions associated with them, and touch on subjects that mass media just don't bother with (because they are trivial in a world sense). Personally I'd like to see this "fad" become a norm. People sharing stories and information is not a common thing these days! We all get our information from "trusted" media sources, and then talk about it the next day. What's so wrong with deciding what we think is important, posting it on our own blog, and generating our own discussion on it?

      And as far as your comment on the simplicity of the scripting required, that's just snobbery. I'll bet your design and scripting skills are miles further ahead than those of most bloggers, but so what? How is that relevant?

      There is vapidity everywhere these days from TV, to movies, to music, even to the bloody news! Something as simple and community oriented as a blog does not deserve to be passed off as insignificant and vapid. The content is not necessarily as important as the medium. Blogs are part of our modern oral tradition, and from a sociological standpoint they're extremely relevant and important media.
      • Mod parent up. Well spoken.

        I, for one, use my blog not only for something to do that keeps me from playing video games, but it's a simple and easy method to keep my family and friends up to date on the inane and silly things going on in my household.

        The primary reason I write on my blog is to do just that...write. It helps me to polish what little skill I may have, and keep the 'writing juices' flowing. I, like many unpublished writers (well, I had some poetry published in college, but that and $1.50
    • by Brown ( 36659 )
      It is in human nature to believe in one's own importance; it is a self-defence mechanism as much as anything - most people really aren't important or respected in 'Society' (whatever that might be), and these give a harmless boost to self-confidence.

      The reason it lasts is of course percisly due to their habit of referencing each other, explicitly or implicitly - there's no external force which slows the process down, only internal encouragement - a positive feedback loop. Most people 'outside' don't find i
    • by NSash ( 711724 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:16PM (#8475855) Journal
      Let's be realistic here. The scripting ability necessary to create a weblog is next to nil.

      Your point being? People don't read blogs because they're hard to set up: they read them because they (presumably) find the writer interesting.

  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HarveyBirdman ( 627248 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:32AM (#8475371) Journal
    The mainstream news media has been reduced to parroting press releases from any group whatsoever and calling it "reporting" for years now.

    Just yesterday I heard a radio news story about how thousands of people are dying from something or other every year. When I looked into the data deeper, it was an estimate (read: ideologically motivated wild ass guess) by some political group, and had no actual science behind it whatsoever. But it was still just reported without any thought because the group issued a press release.

  • by MooseByte ( 751829 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:38AM (#8475426)

    OK, I actually read the article and this doesn't sound like "stealing" at all to me. Granted we'd need to see the underlying blogs and topics in question, but let's face it - social awareness of various topics ebb and flow.

    Those of you who follow U.S. media may recall "The Summer of the Shark". There was no peak in shark attacks that year. In fact I think it was a below-average year. It just became the socially-focused topic.

    Then there's the "everything's now in place" effect. Competing teams coming up with similar vaccines at the same time. Or manned flight.

    Just part of the Great Filtered Aquifer of the human experience.

    Of course it may well be that humans are just a bunch of damn thieving cheaters. ;-)
  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:39AM (#8475432)
    I'm surprised there are not blog-rating/tracking services that watch this kind of phenomenon. One could even do side-by-sides of how different blogs reported/copied material on a given topic. Different blogs might become known for originality of new ideas, while others might become known for long-term insightful commentary on copies of other blogs.

    Routine tracking of blatant, unacknowledged copying of other's blogs would certainly separate the poseurs from the thinkers. Tracking the provenence of ideas would also reduce the truth-by-repetition problem on the internet wherein an erroneous fact looks widely accepted due to mere duplication.
  • But... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:40AM (#8475446)
    ...that is so untrue! I just copied and pasted your "news story" into my blog so I could tell everybody about it and how wrong you are.
  • by ubiquitin ( 28396 ) * on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:43AM (#8475475) Homepage Journal
    I wonder how much different blogs are in this respect than "traditional" journalism. Newspapers have to make efforts at times to ensure that they don't have the exact same headline. Also, it probably isn't too terribly suprising that in a world of mass-media, the collective consciousness is a bit hard to redirect. Mass-originality and memes are opposite concepts.
    • by OECD ( 639690 )

      I wonder how much different blogs are in this respect than "traditional" journalism.

      Not very, from what I can see. And, I think, for the same reason: they all read each other's stuff.

      The nice thing about blogs is that they'll call each other out on errors. You won't see the Wall Street Journal run a correction on something the New York Times wrote (even when Jason Blair happened, the NYT did the bulk of the reporting.)

      The downside of blogs is that they're like HyperCard Stacks: Anyone can write one,

  • by da3dAlus ( 20553 ) <> on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:45AM (#8475502) Homepage Journal
    Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger, Mushroom! Mushroom!

    There, I also linked the original [].
  • No way! (Score:4, Funny)

    by jimbosworldorg ( 615112 ) <slashdot AT jimbosworld DOT org> on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:45AM (#8475505) Homepage
    "And in related news, it's been discovered that a website called SlashDot [] links to stories run by other media outlets..."
  • "Plagiarism" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by (void*) ( 113680 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:47AM (#8475529)
    Are you sure that the right use of the word? A plagiarist is someone who copies wholesale, words and paragraphs not belonging to him. A plagiarist exploits people who attribute depth to some idea, but short-circuits the thought processes that went into creating the idea. Instead the plagiatist copies.

    Now if someone reads about an idea, digests it, and is able to communicate the idea BETTER, is that plagiarism?

    What is it with you slashdotters? You seem to have a grade school understanding of ideas and plagiarism. Have you ever seen DIFFERENT WORDINGS of the same idea? Have you ever seen DIFFERENT IDEAS worded similarly? Have you ever taken an undergraduate philosophy class? Until you can tell those situations apart and come up with a nuanced opinion, please learn not to label such things as plagiarism. It's akin to calling a flirt a rapist, or a lab mouse a rat.

    • Re:"Plagiarism" (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stewby18 ( 594952 )

      Now if someone reads about an idea, digests it, and is able to communicate the idea BETTER, is that plagiarism?

      Actually, yes. Yes it is.

      Plagiarize (from [])
      v. tr.
      1. To use and pass off (the ideas or writings of another) as one's own.
      2. To appropriate for use as one's own passages or ideas from (another).
      v. intr.
      To put forth as original to oneself the ideas or words of another.

      I'm sorry, but the idea that plagiarizing refers only to use of copy and paste is actually th

      • To some degree I agree with you. But this whole idea of people owning ideas is ridiculous. Are you saying every time I reference the idea of freedom I have to reference whoever came up with it first? Is Thomas Jefferson a plagarist because he didn't put references to the "original authors" of his ideas in the Declaration of Independance? Eventually ideas become part of the mainstream consciousness. How big does an idea have to be to be "copyrightable" Say I read John Stuart Mill, and his ideas influen
  • by Zarf ( 5735 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:48AM (#8475531) Journal
    I'm merely standing on the shoulders of a bunch of other midgets. We can see nearly as high as those who stand on the shoulders of giants... it just takes more of us and a little bit more walking.
  • by deacon ( 40533 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:48AM (#8475535) Journal
    Lets see:

    Large "establised" "media" outlets, such as Wired, NYT, "Rooters", etc., etc. need readers to sell either their content or their ads or both. Pushing their bias and ideology is a desireable plus.

    Bloggers provide a complete spectrum of viewpoints. They do this usually for free, some of them have a tip jar. Sure, there are some stupid blogs about fur balls under the bed, but I am talking about serious bloggers here.

    Here is the key: In many cases, bloggers have pointed out gross errors, plain lies, and other biases in "established" "media", which in the case of NYT has resulted in "corrections", where the NYT web page is changed quietly.

    Make no mistake, bloggers are a threat to big "media", to the control and the monopoly on the distribution and spin of information that the "media" has enjoyed for decades.

    Expect to see more big "media" outlets assuring you that bloggers are boring/venal/stupid/Republican, steal all their ideas, and put puppies thru blenders*.

    Nothing to see here, Citizen, move along.

    *bonus points to the first 3 million people who get the "puppy blender" ref.

  • It's ironic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wrecked ( 681366 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:49AM (#8475542)
    that the Wired story did not reference Richard Dawkins, who coined the term "meme" in the Selfish Gene, and drew an analogy between the transmission of information with the transmission of viruses. Then again, I don't know if Richard Dawkins got the idea from William S. Burroughs or vice versa.
  • Plagiarism? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Unknown Kadath ( 685094 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:49AM (#8475546)
    Don't most non-personal bloggers just circulate links and provide commentary on current events? Like, you know, newspapers? You don't see anyone accusing the Washington Post of plagiarizing from the New York Times when they both publish op-ed pieces on the same topic.

    Maybe it's good manners to provide a linkback to the blog you got the link from originally, but omitting it is hardly plagiarism. (A word which the article never uses, incidentally. I'm not on the hate-michael bandwagon, but that blurb headline has some nasty spin.)

  • by TwistedGreen ( 80055 ) <[twistedgreen] [at] []> on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:53AM (#8475592)
    Wow! This idea is incredibly exciting
    ! This is on the verge of being able to semantically track information flow between people... with the Internet, tracking like this is made possible which can show evidence for so many fascinating kinds of socioinformational phenomena. We're not just talking about quizzes here, we're talking about actual ideas.

    This is evidence of a massive unconscious distributed process, which is indeed akin to the physics of a disease epidemic. The idea is seeded somewhere, and it is passed along through the social network, each person considering it and modifying it slightly, processing it more and more as it propagates. Think of it as evolutionary telephone - a mechanism for knowledge purification.

    I have noticed myself that interactions with other people have a huge effect on the particular directions my own thoughts take... and, in fact, many of my own ideas are the result of conversations such as these. In a conversation, you are forced to express your ideas, to solidify its form within the structure of language. And then it can be manipulated and communicated and corrected: it is allowed to be processed further and percolated through society.

    This is most wonderful stuff.
  • by bbrazil ( 729534 ) <> on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:53AM (#8475596)
    'The Tipping Point' by Malcom Gladwell. Looks at the spread of ideas/diseaeses. Quite interesting but the conclusion is a bit strong.
  • by flogger ( 524072 ) <non@nonegiven> on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:54AM (#8475614) Journal
    before the internet, before TV, before radio, before books, ideas were spread by talking. A perosn would hear something, and if the person liked this idea, he/she would propigate this idea. It the person really liked this idea, then he/she would pass this idea down to his/her children. back in the old days, there were, for want of a better term, "Story guilds" would passon information and it would be spread....Then came books (The first best seller then is now one of the top movies). With books, people that were so inclined would read these ideas and pass the idea onto others. Nobility and Clergy read and the ideas they kept and passed on pretty much became law.
    Then with Radio and the birth of modern mass media, people would listen to ideas, and the ideas that were accpted were talked about and sometime these ideas affected people in interesting ways. []
    Same thing with TV. But by the time TV came along, the ideas weren't ideas per say, they were gossippy comments on Dick van Dyke's wife (50's) to Janet's boob (2004).
    Now with the internet, some people are propagating ideas again. (Some are not.) But as always, the ideas are coming from other sources and the ideas that are being accepted are being passed on.
    Anecdote: On a quiz with my class, I asked to briefly explain communism, capitalism, and so forth...A student answered this:
    Communism: All your profits are belong to us
    Great answer that assimulated ideas from the net and spread them around.
    What am I getting at? It ok that others borrow/steal/copy ideas. Ideas are meant to be shared and debated. To own an idea and say, "Mine" is like trying to own the air you breathe. You can;t stop it from spreading.

    (breaks time to proofread... sorry)
  • by adzoox ( 615327 ) * on Friday March 05, 2004 @11:57AM (#8475634) Journal
    I find the problem of plagiarism much like copyrights problems.

    Aren't we after all human? Two people can't have the same idea? I will admit that i sometime get ideas from bloggers, but if this was considered stealing or plagiarism then ALL news outlets are plagiarists. BLOGs should be looked at as personal news with personal views.

    My best example was this /. journal entry []. I got the idea from a church sermon. AFTER I WROTE IT, I did some more research on the topic and found out some others had similar thoughts. I, of course, think I "worded" it better! ;)

  • Well duuuuh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GeorgeH ( 5469 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:03PM (#8475698) Homepage Journal
    Bloggers are just information aggregators. They cull from their sources and post the interesting stuff. Slashdot's been doing it for years. There's too much on the web, and Bloggers act as (real, not top 40) DJs by selecting the best of what's out there and giving it a better. No one seems to complain that DJs don't end every song with "I heard that album from my friend Ted."

    The service they provide is going through hundreds of bad links to find the interesting ones to recommend to their readers. I think this report is simply stating the obvious.

    Also, if this is a big deal, why doesn't Slashdot include a "via" field for submissions to give credit to where the poster found the link? Personally, I always give credit for links when the site I found the link from supports TrackBack, any other times it's a crapshoot.
  • by geoffspear ( 692508 ) * on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:08PM (#8475754) Homepage
    So each political and religious leader should sue all of his followers for stealing the ideas he had to work so hard to make them accept?

    Should scientists start suing each other for building research on earlier published papers and referencing them in their new publications?

    Do these "researchers" really think news outlets and "original" bloggers put out information hoping no one else will discuss it in print or online? Am I stealing their research by discussing it here?

  • Uh, yeah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:08PM (#8475761) Homepage
    I quote liberally from other sources in my blog. I don't have time to paraphrase and reword every single article I happen to find interesting. I don't consider it plagiarism because:

    • I credit my source, and often provide a link to it in my posts.
    • I include the full text of the article in case it goes away, gets slashdotted, gets edited, gets censored, etc.

    As to the latter bullet: This happens ALL THE TIME in the age of electronic media, and the only way to prove it is to copy-paste a "snapshot" of what the article looked like at a given point in time before some editor does a hackjob on the original article because its slant was doubleplusungood.

    So I'm providing a public service to my many readers, all 50 or so of them. Thbbbbbt!
  • by ENOENT ( 25325 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:09PM (#8475769) Homepage Journal
    You mean there are other bloggers? I've just been posting the same stuff to all of my dupe accounts.

  • A lot of bloggers launch off other ideas they read and put their own spin on it. Thats part of the power of it, sparking wide discussion and expression of multiple points of view of a topic.

    This article isn't saying that bloggers outright copy... just that often, a common topic will explode among many bloggers. Sometimes when I write about something in my LiveJournal that I've seen elsewhere, I've seen it in so many blogs that proper attribution would be difficult at best...

    Most bloggers don't really give a shit if their ideas for topics are used elsewhere... if their words are used without permission/attribution, then there is an issue, but the ideas and subjects flow freely for a reason... we WANT them to.
  • by sabat ( 23293 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:16PM (#8475858) Journal

    This just goes to show how fucked up we've become.

    If I, blogger, quote someone else, even unattributed, or talk about someone else's idea, that's "theft?" Gimme a break. You don't automatically own ideas just because you write them down.

    You can't really "own" an idea anyway -- there's no US constitutional provision for that, just an allowance for a limited monopoly to encourage more creation.

    Blogs are, by definition, a conversation. Calling that conversation "theft" is ridiculous to an extremem. What, if I'm talking to someone IRL, should I force them to "license" my ideas before continuing?

    "Sorry, before we can continue, please sign here and pay this fee. Then we can keep talking about my ideas about how to set up a new centralized login server."

    • by Zarf ( 5735 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:35PM (#8476089) Journal
      I agree that you can't really own an idea. But our problem is this: A song is essentially and idea, a business is essentially the execution of a collection of ideas, a story is an idea, a government is the execution of a group of ideas, a program is a collection of ideas, a product is the fruit of a group of ideas and methods derived from ideas.

      Ideas are the Genesis of all the elements of our human made society. How do you allow people to get paid for creating an idea? If I generate millions of wonderful ideas and never get credit, what incentive is there for me to continue doing so.

      All our IP laws are about trying to find a way to give a person credit for an idea. You can own an idea in the sense that you birthed it. Once the idea is in another person's mind, do they own it as much as you did? They can be said to own the idea but they did not birth it. They "stood on your shoulders" to get the idea.

      Do you deserve credit? yes. Can you get compensation for it? maybe. Is it fair that the person who "birthed" VisiCalc doesn't get any royalties for "Excel" even though the Genesis for the idea of an Electronic Spreadsheet was birthed in his mind? No.

      So life's not fair and ideas do get "stolen" but that's the nature of an idea.
    • According to copyright law in America -- and this makes sense -- you don't own the idea, because the idea is not your creation. You own the "fixed creative expression" of the idea. And by extention, it is that expression that is copyrighted to you. Not the idea itself.
  • memes and zeitgeist (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:33PM (#8476071)
    Memes are ideas that flow through and define a culture. Blogs are just mechanism of doing this. In the past other media- gossip, schools, and newspapers- facilitated the flow of memes. Only a small fraction of memes are original, but are endless propagated. Wired tries to capture a few of this in its monthly section on new memes.

    The collection of memes defining a culture, an era, and a place is the Zeitgeist. It is interesting to look at other Zeitgeists to see what people took for granted compared what believe now. Future cultures will be amused by our own Zeitgeist too.
  • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:39PM (#8476140) Journal
    The tool at HP tracks the spread of "infection", or more specifically, the number of blogs that contain a specific url. Why would it be surprising that many blogs would contain the same urls at around the same time? For example, an announcement is made that the Mars Rovers have found strong evidence that parts of mars were saturated with water. I would expect many bloggers to comment on that, and post a url to Nasa/JPL or Space Flight Now. So we need an HP tool to verify this type of blogging behavior?

    Dan East
  • Not plagiarism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Salamander ( 33735 ) <> on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:44PM (#8476197) Homepage Journal

    You can't steal what is freely given. The distinction between quoting with and without attribution, which you fail to make, is also important. Much of what's written on blogs is deliberately put into the public domain, with a clear desire on the authors' part to see it get broader distribution. Many bloggers obsessively track who's linking or responding to them, or how they stand on the various blogger rankings, or where they are on Google's list of hits for particular pet terms. It's a universal enough phenomenon that it's the exceptions - the people who do not want their material used elsewhere - who should be required to identify themselves. The default assumption, which mirrors copyright law, should be that if someone made a concrete effort to publish and didn't make an effort to limit the scope of that publication then it's public domain.

  • by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:46PM (#8476229) Homepage
    Read the NY Times and then check the network newscasts that night - the networks will more often than not pick up on whatever the Times puts on the frong page, even when there's no necessary tie of the story to the particular day it's told. Then check the concensus of the talking heads on all those TV panels, and watch them move like square dancers between shows teaching each other the newly fashionable steps. It's enough to make you scream like Dean.

    Or look at academic journals, and notice that most of the articles just recycle accepted variants on ideas. The exception is professors from just a few top schools - Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Princeton, Berkeley, MIT - who have enough faith in their individual minds to actually follow ideas into new terrain. This is similar to why the NY Times reporters sometimes lead, too: their institution lends them the status to assume their instincts are good, while most of us are too insecure to be other than sheep.
  • by azpcox ( 88971 ) <> on Friday March 05, 2004 @12:49PM (#8476257)
    In other news, Apple's iBlog software now comes with a sticker affixed to it stating "Don't steal blogs" ...

  • There is no control group, the methods and techniques of interrogation have not been made public so they can be scrutinized and these results have not yet been independently verified. Therefore, this conclusion was NOT reached by applying the scientific method.

    Mr. Pedantic (TM)
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <> on Friday March 05, 2004 @01:02PM (#8476403) Journal
    Just like a tune where all the artists riff off the other. Instead of being a band of 4 or 5, you're seeing 5 or 6 million. You're going to remember the good stuff (or supremely bad) and filter out the rest - you have to, it's the nature of the brain, and you'd go flat foot crazy if you didn't.

    Then it'll percolate in that cute little head of yours, and you'll have your own version. Just like witnesses to a crime and snowflakes, baby.

    The worst bloggers are going to stand out because they're just like monkeys - they're the trend followers. They like the idea of a blog, but never had to think an original thought in their life. So they do what the other blogs are doing, even when they don't understand the reason. Just like monkeys running around in a cage, see?

    Now the best monkeys see the walls and know that they're in a cage, so they figure, 'I'm outta sight and outta mind if I don't get out of here', and they make the leap to bigger and better things, ya dig?

    Getting back to the band, the true cream of the crop ain't going to be liftin' the gold stars from their neighbors paper - they're not gonna care what YOU think. They gave at the office, and they're past that.

    They got a whole different filter in their head; what goes in must come out, but in ways the regular joe just won't understand. Joe's just gonna take that train and see where it goes.

    The best conductors are going to take you for a spin, make the ride entertaining, and leave you right back where you came from with a pocket of souvenirs.

    At least, that's how I see it.

  • Memes unscientific (Score:4, Insightful)

    by falsification ( 644190 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @01:14PM (#8476526) Journal
    Plagiarism is not a scientific term. Plagiarism is a literary term. You can't prove plagiarism scientifically. You can only prove it in the sense that other people agree with you.

    The HP study is a purportedly scientific study of memes. That is where they erred.

    Memes are unscientific. They have no validity in social science.

    Don't cite some asshat scientific journal that talks about memes to me. The key to science is whether it can be falsified. (Note the username.)

    As Karl Popper would say, there is nothing about the notion of a meme that can be falsified. Hence, it is not a scientific notion.

    It's easy to see why computer scientists can be taken in by them. You see the world as if it were a computer. In fact, it is more complicated.

    Go ahead, though, and play around. Waste your time with memes.

    A plague on all the meme foolishness.

  • by valintin ( 30311 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @01:20PM (#8476577)
    I'm just going to wait a few days and see what everyone else says about this.
  • "Important Bloggers" (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lulu of the Lotus-Ea ( 3441 ) <> on Friday March 05, 2004 @01:37PM (#8476735) Homepage
    Isn't there something deeply wrong with any article where that phrase occurs?
  • by cyranoVR ( 518628 ) <> on Friday March 05, 2004 @02:19PM (#8477205) Homepage Journal
    bloggers steal their ideas from other bloggers."

    And this is different from the traditional media HOW???
  • by Nynaeve ( 163450 ) on Friday March 05, 2004 @02:30PM (#8477322)
    From the article:

    Such an understanding is also important to marketers, who hope to be able to pitch products and ideas directly to the most influential people in a given group.

    Note that this also means that FUD can be spread in the same way. Suppose you want to do a pump-and-dump scheme. If you can deceive an influential blogger or two, then you've gained yourself a lot of ground for a relatively small amount of effort.

    Knowing who the most influential individuals are for a particular topic is extremely valuable for both good and bad information!

  • by CGP314 ( 672613 ) <CGP AT ColinGregoryPalmer DOT net> on Friday March 05, 2004 @02:41PM (#8477465) Homepage
    The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

    -Albert Einstein.

The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult for the fabricator and impossible for the serviceman.