Sunday, February 28, 2010

What The Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell

Been a fan of Malcolm Gladwell so it was a no brainer to pick up his most recent book, "What The Dog Saw".

What's different this time is that this is a collection from previous works Gladwell has written, nineteen in total. I enjoyed almost all of them, some much more than others. My favorite was "Something Borrowed", about plagiarism.

This one got my attention the most because I have always wondered exactly what he talks about. It's hard to explain but basically, that plagiarism is inevitable. Of coarse there are blatant copies, but that is not what we are talking about. At this point in the world, it is bound to be that somehow somewhere at another point, someone wrote something extremely similar to what you have wrote, whether you know it or not. So if someone happens to catch this actual coincidence, should you really be labeled a cheat, crook, unoriginal, whatever?

Gladwell goes through countless examples of this, particularly in the music industry. Background beats like Led Zepplin and Muddy Water's. Steve Miller Band and Shaggy. But then he goes into another argument his friend made. Could it just be considered influences? If every beat was copyrighted and never allowed to be used and warped again, then many songs would have never been created.

Back to the case of actual writing, I just recently did a blog entry about how some girl totally jacked my idea about gym grifting. I have no evidence whatsoever proving this was my idea first. So she gets credit for it and I have to suck it up. But what if I had wrote something about it and could prove it was MY idea? Could I accuse her of plagiarism? No not really in my opinion.

People will naturally come up with similar ideas, it's just bound to happen. Unless shes using specific phrases of mine, I cant really say she stole anything. Even if she did though, 1. I'd be kinda flattered for something stupid like that but if it was something I put years of research into I'd be pissed. 2. In the case of being in college, is it really fair for her to fail out because of it (in the case of the less intense example)?

There are these new crazy programs that literally scan words and phrases and its hooked up to a database that matches it up with like, everything ever written, making it that much more impossible for students to get away with plagiarizing. Whoa.

So this is just one of the few stories that really get things going up there in that noggin. Pretty good for readers with ADD too because you want to finish the story and it's only a couple pages.

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