Fine Line between Originality & Plagiarism
At the initial scanning of the letter, I was a bit shocked, terrified, and on the brink of falling off my bed.
(Don’t worry. It isn’t a bed of grand stature that you find in five-star hotels like Shangri-La. I wouldn’t be injured even if I did fall; mostly likely I’d suffer from a spank on my behind, which should have adequate cushion for shock)
My heart yelled, “This is plagiarism! 80%, no, 90%, no, 99%, no, in fact, 99.999% plagiarism!”
I yanked out of pain as if someone had just trespassed on my private property, as if she or he had caught me while I was in the shower baring it all. Now I know how silly it was for Apple and other giants to freak out over name infringement (anything that begins with a letter “i” is mine!). For a split moment I empathized with them.
From an objective, scientific angle, how dramatic was my reaction? And was it necessary? It was a letter of self-accolade I personally wrote to show to my previous manager.
(Indeed, now the burden of drafting and crafting letters of praise is imposed on the requesters. You, as a candidate, are supposed to master the art of elevating yourself in the eyes of the beholder, or the reviewer, or the future employer. Modesty is bygone. Bragging shall be exercised to the fullest extent.)
The bigger question is – did I really write it? Was it really that original? In what position in the world were I to accuse others of plagiarizing “my” template? Like many academic research papers for which I received A’s by pulling all-nighters, this letter of praise was the product of research efforts, which means I sagely picked and plucked content, sentences, wordings from sample letters of praises online and arranged them in a neat and logical order.
I pieced the puzzles together. I didn’t create the image on the puzzle. Anyone else who is willing to piece the same set of puzzles is free to do so.
Information is free. Knowledge is abundant. Creativity is scarce. Mine isn’t any more valuable than yours or his or hers. Therefore all goodies shall be traded and shared! Secrets are not endorsers of today’s information society.
Any author of the online sample praise letters might react in similar manners, upon sighting my “original” letter.
Let us bask in the deluge of praises! Criticism comes in all shapes and forms. Praises are consistent. So there’s no one to blame if our letters resemble…a bit like twins or triplets, right?
Posted on July 4, 2011, in Philosophy and tagged Academic dishonesty, Education, Google, job, job hunting, Plagiarism, recommendation letter, reference letter, Research. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.