Just like the digital camera age made everyone a “photographer,” the Internet age has, apparently, turned many talentless folks into “writers.” Nowadays, any assemblage of words is construed as writing, and therefore those who “write” are “writers.” People who never get paid to write one word, let alone whole articles or blogs, are suddenly “freelance writers” or “award-winning journalists.”
I’ve been plagiarized multiple times before, but it has usually been cases where one or two topics are heavily “borrowed” by someone who then does a poor rehash of my ideas and words. What is plagiarism? Here are some general guidelines. I link to this particular page because I like the reference to “information illiteracy.”
Plagiarism represents information illiteracy. What does that mean? It means if you have to plagiarise, clearly, you are incapable of researching and assimilating your own thoughts and ideas. You are effectively illiterate when it comes to handling information.
Just this week, someone sent me this May 27, 2013 article written by a Robert Taylor on Examiner.com, a website that often attracts folks who otherwise can’t gain a market or audience for their writing because it’s a platform open to any contributor. Though Examiner.com is a great anarcho-platform concept, like anything else on the web that has no oversight for content, there have been notable accuracy and attribution problems. Unfortunately, many readers are unable to separate good writing from poor or copycat writing.
I refer to serial plagiarism here because Mr. Taylor has stolen topic after topic after topic from me, and he compiled it into one article, complete with a not-so-crafty rehash of words. The writing and organization of this article is poor because it reads like a rundown of someone ele’s work – which it is. The topic he chose to rehash is market anarchy in Detroit, a topic that I have covered on KarenDeCoster.com and LewRockwell.com for years, and especially in the last year or two. In fact, I even started a new blog as a place to collect all these posts on anarcho-Detroit: Detroit: From Rust to Riches. For some time, I have taken to titling these posts “Anarcho-Detroit [fill in blank]“ as my way of describing the near anarchy and voluntary spontaneous order that is becoming a common occurrence in my city. A short description of my blog is on the front page:
This blog will be about the uniqueness of the Detroit resurgence due to an inept and powerless local bureaucracy (government) that cannot possibly keep up with regulating the renaissance of entrepreneurial and community ventures.
Mr. Taylor’s article does not give proper credit to me, my Detroit blog, my personal website, or especially, LewRockwell.com, where these posts have gained the widest audience. In fact, the copyist alternates between (a) linking to some of the same sources I linked to and (b) finding new sources to link to so that there appears to be an air of originality. Here’s a sampling:
(1) Taylor writes this about Detroit Bus Company:
Founded by 25-year-old Andy Didorosi, the company avoids the traditionally stuffy, cagey government buses and uses beautiful vehicles with graffiti-laden exterior designs that match the heart of the Motor City. There are no standard bus routes; a live-tracking app, a call or a text is all you need to get picked up in one of their buses run on soy-based biofuel. All the buses feature wi-fi, music, and you can even drink your own alcohol on board!
I wrote this in my 2012 blog post, “Detroit’s Heroic Anarcho-Bus Company”:
The owner and founder, 25-year-old Andy Didorosi, was a guest on Mitch Albom’s show today, where he stated that his company is “trying to change what people think about buses.” In other words, his company does not tool around the city in monstrous, shabby, dirty, disgusting cages on wheels that are driven by 400-pound, sedentary maniacs who have nothing to lose, especially their union-protected, government job. The company’s buses are visually stunning while sporting graffiti-laden exterior designs that match the rustic-artistic city where the buses operate.
The buses also have wi-fi, live tracking apps, and you can call or text to have a bus come pick you up. And, there are no standard routes as with the government’s bus systems. They also play great music on the buses.
…The buses run on soy-based biofuel that is produced and harvested locally. … Oh, and government prohibition is unmistakably absent, as you can also drink your own alcohol on all of the company’s buses.
(2) Taylor writes this about the “bus stop” anarchy, another topic of mine.
Charles Molnar and a couple of other students from the Detroit Enterprise Academy wanted to help make benches for the city’s bus stops, where long-waits are the norm, equipped with bookshelves to hold reading material.
Detroit Department of Transportation officials quickly said the bench was “unapproved” and had it taken down. Silly citizens, don’t you know only governments can provide these services?
I write this earlier this month, in my post, “More Anarcho-Detroit: Bus Stop Benches?” And this is just a small snippet from my blog.
Some people from the Detroit Enterprise Academy think that bus patrons – especially older folks – shouldn’t have to stand and wait at the city’s bus stops, so they put together a voluntary force to do something about it. They build benches from reclaimed wood, fancy them up a bit, and place them at bus stops where resting spots are much needed. The benches built by the crew seat six people, and they also have bookcases in the bottom, filled with books, so those waiting on transportation can have something to read, if desired.
DDOT (Detroit Department of Transportation) officials have said the placement of benches has not followed protocol, and therefore the benches are not approved and must be removed.
(3) Then Taylor, in a very obvious case of information illiteracy, streams together multiple odd topics about Detroit, without any interesting details, support, or other content that is usually a product of good writing. He writes:
The TMC and the DBC are just two of the larger, more visible examples of the market and voluntary human cooperation reigning in Detroit. “Food rebels,” running local community gardens, are an alternative to Big Agriculture and government-subsidized factory farms. Private parking garages are popping up. Detroit residents are using Lockean homesteading principles to repurpose land amongst the rubble of the Fed-induced housing bubble. Community events like Biergartens and large, civic dining gatherings (with no permits or licenses!) are being organized privately. Even Detroit’s artists are beginning to reflect this anarchic, peaceful movement in their artwork.
(a) As most all readers know, I have written multiple times on Detroit’s urban agriculture landscape, as well as the Industrial Food Machine (too many links to put them all here). Though here is my “Anarcho-Farming in Detroit” post that uses the term “food rebels” and showcases the PBS program that he also links to.
(b) The “private parking garage” he mentions is covered extensively by me in this post, “Detroit’s Anarcho-Parking Garage?” Also, let me add that there is nothing unique about a “private” parking garage – what is so compelling is the entrepreneur I referred to, and the amazing concept and vision he has for the garage. Mr. Taylor was apparently running out of ways to lift my work.
(c) The “repurposing of land” he refers to is from this post of mine from 2012, “Anarcho-Land Ownership.” I link to Rothbard writing on Lockean homesteading principles and I write, “Residents are taking over nature left unattended and bureaucratically bungled by city government, while they mix their labor with the unused land to cultivate and repurpose land resources.” He plagiarizes this by using “repurpose” and “Lockean homesteading principles.” I’d bet a million that he’s never read Locke.
(d) He also gives a passing mention (again, with no detail) to Detroit’s Biergarten, and this comes from my “Anarcho-Biergarten” post.
(e) His mention of “civic dining gathering with no permits or licenses” comes from my 2012 “Anarcho-Dining” post. In my post I write, “There are only the necessary anarcho-rules to maintain appearance and order (attire and clean-up), with no permission and no permits.” So he plagiarizes me directly here.
(f) He also sweeps in the mention of “anarchy and artwork,” and again, I have been there, done that on this topic, as represented in my September 2012 “Anarcho-Art in Detroit” post. In this post I use the terms “Lockean homesteading” and “voluntaryism,” two terms he uses freely in his article.
This whole scenario is more funny than anything. With all of Mr Taylor’s copyisms, not once did he give credit to me, my blogs, or the influence my writing had on his apparent excitement about Detroit and its free-flowing market anarchy. Mr. Taylor is from San Francisco nonetheless. I write about Detroit’s hidden economy and resurgence because I live here and I participate in it everyday.
The reason I chose to post this is that this type of thing happens a lot more than people know, and without each instance being pointed out. I suspect that most readers don’t know that this is quite common, and even more important, I think a lot of folks on the ‘Net don’t recognize the difference between writing and information illiteracy. I do believe that the unfettered market is a great vehicle for driving out and ruining the reputation of copycats and fakes. At least I am optimistic that is the case.
Producing interesting, idea-driven opinion or fact pieces takes a lot of work, and usually, intelligent people know subpar work when they see it. At first glance, I thought it was immediately apparent that Mr. Taylor’s article is shoddy, shallow, uninformed, and mostly .. boring. Yawn. Here’s to hoping he learns something from this.