Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Culture of Sharing


Sent to you by moya via Google Reader:


via Raven's Eye by maia on 12/31/09


been thinking a lot about 'scraping'. mainly cause a friend got shamed recently for reposting with attribution full articles from another blog.

now, my question is what are bloggers trying to protect? what are their goals? if your goal is to share information, ideas, and create more understanding of people and their communities, then why are you so afraid of having someone else re post your words?

i would understand if folks were plagiarizing. lying. claiming that they are the originators of something that they are not. that is unethical.

at raven's eye, if i am going to re post full posts, i normally ask permission first, unless i know that the author is all about sharing their words and visions.

normally i post excerpts, in part because this blog is about supporting a community of online woc and i want folks to visit the individual blogs, and in part because often only a portion of the blog post really jumps out at me saying: share me! share me!

personally, anything that i write is free to be shared.  all i ask for is a link.  and im not really hard core about the link.

i understand that some bloggers are using their blogs as a way to jump start or maintain a writing career. they have ads on their blogs. and consider their success to be measured in the number of viewers.

i get that. i am a free lance writer as well. and my blog has assisted me in being a free lance writer.

but the strange thing is i could never have predicted the ways that my blog has assisted me.  it certainly hasnt meant a straight line, a to b to c etc. often its a comment i have made on another blog. or having my work reposted to a community that i wasnt familiar with.  i find the best thing for me. is to focus on writing as honestly as i can. and let the chips fall where they may.

why do we feel the need to be so controlling over our words? what makes us think they are so so so precious?

and i understand that we want our words, words that we identify with, to be sheltered in safe spaces. i mean i have had a link or a repost put in a community where i got to hear some pretty mean and ignorant and personal attacks against me, my life, my choices, and my family.  that hurts. it just does. it hurts bad.

and it can be triggering. because i write from a place of vulnerability (even when i am using humor) and the word -vulnerability- comes from the word that means 'wounded'.  and we all want to protect our wounds.  even while we are sharing them with others.

but i remain with the belief that my vulnerabilities are my greatest strength.  and i have seen time and time again, that it is when i am most willing to be hurt, to be open, to be transparent that love and transformation become concrete manifestations and not just a possibility.

and i have seen that those who are less willing to be vulnerable are often folks i dont want to get very close to.  because they are often the ones who are most callous towards others vulnerabilities. perhaps, because they haven't been willing to deal with their own fear of pain.  with their own suffering.  so they dont know how to deal with others'.

so what are our goals? and what are our vulnerabilities? and what does community really mean if sharing isnt a basic ethic of our lives, our work, and our visions?

The Culture of Sharing: Why Releasing Copyright Will Be the Smartest Thing You Do | Write to Done.

People who are used to the traditional model of copyrights will be alarmed and perhaps even angered by this article. They've been taught that copyrights actually protect the rights of artists, and in doing so actually encourage creativity. After all, if an artist doesn't have copyright, he can't make a living, and what would his motivation be to create anything then?

This logic is plain wrong.

First, history proves it wrong. Copyright laws originated in the 1700s, but amazingly, there were a few people who were able to create works of art without the protection of copyright laws. Shakespeare, Milton, Cervantes, Virgil, Dante … to name but a few big names. There are, of course, thousands more. And here we're only talking about writers — a few other artists also were able to create art: da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Mozart, Beethoven and Vivaldi are just a few who created before their works were protected by copyright.

Second, copyright has evolved into protection for corporations more than for artists these days. The people really pushing for copyright protection are not really people at all, but huge media conglomerates. They are protecting a system that is set up to make them money, but that only helps a handful of artists. The vast majority of artists are never read or seen or heard by the public, because the corporations don't deem them to be profitable enough. So the system doesn't help artists anymore — it hurts them.

Third, I have proven that it's possible to make money, even today, without using copyright. And so have many others (Cory Doctorow being a notable example). The release of my copyright didn't decrease my income — it increased it. It didn't decrease my exposure — it increased it. We'll talk more about this below.

Finally, copyright actually hurts artists, instead of protecting them. When you try to protect your copyright, you waste precious time and money pursuing violators — time and money you could be using to create instead of threaten litigation. When you protect your copyright, you are denying someone else the use of your ideas and creativity — which might seem good to you, but it doesn't seem good to the person on the other end, and the community in general suffers a bit. And it hurts your reputation (if people think you're selfish and protective) and stops your ideas from being spread as widely as possible.

By protecting your copyright, you are putting up barriers for the spread of your ideas. In this digital age, that is a mistake, plain and simple.


So let's put aside the old model of copyrighting works for a minute, and ask ourselves: "What might happen if I release my copyright?"

Seriously, think about it for a second.

Sure, some websites might scrape your content, re-using it and putting ads on it — making money from your hard work. And sure, someone else might throw it into a book and sell it, without paying you. You're losing money, right?

Not necessarily. These people are making money by selling your work to customers you probably wouldn't have reached anyway. They're making money, sure, but how does that hurt you? If you could have reached these readers, you probably will anyway. In fact, if these readers really like your work, they'll probably come looking for more … and you'll gain a bunch of new readers.

And many others might use your work without making a profit. They might put your work in a free newsletter, or print it and use it in a classroom, or put it on their blog without making money. They'll share your ideas with others, and give you credit. Now you're reaching thousands of people you never would have reached before. These people are doing your marketing for you, for free!

I'll repeat that in case the italics and exclamation point weren't emphasis enough: by releasing copyright, you might get people to do your marketing for you, for free.


Think about this for a second: none of your ideas are completely original. Mine sure aren't. I take the ideas of others and build upon them. I try to create new ways of looking at old ideas. I combine old ideas in new mixes. Sometimes I just dust off old ideas that people have forgotten about. Sometimes they're only new to me — I just discovered them and tried them out and found they worked, but they've been around in many forms for ages. All creative work is like this in some way. We take the ideas of others and build upon them, remix them, look at them in new ways.

If this is true, aren't you indebted to so many other creative types? Would you have been able to create your work at all if you hadn't been exposed to the works of thousands of others? Could you have created anything without using the ideas of others in your work?

And now think about this: by giving your work to others to use, isn't this a wonderful way to repay the creative types that came before you and made your work possible? Isn't it a great way to contribute to the creative community, and to make the world better?

I love to see how others take my work and build upon it, remix it, make it better. They have made my work more beautiful. And in doing so, in benefiting and participating in the Culture of Sharing, they have made the world a better place. And so have I. And so can you.

So let's talk specifics, briefly. By releasing copyright, you will have a few benefits come your way:

  • Others might take your work and use it and spread it in various ways.
  • New readers will hear of you for the first time, and come to your blog or buy your book.
  • You will have increased visibility, a stronger brand, more readers, more traffic over the long haul.
  • You will make more money.
  • You will help others create, and make the world a better place.

None of this is guaranteed, but if your work is good, it will almost surely happen.


Things you can do from here:


1 comment:

Raviraj said...

Thanks for the post. Pretty Interesting stuff..

SEO Services