I recently had a discussion with a mate over some beers about intellectual property. My mate was worried that I ‘give away my ideas for free’ on this blog. My mate intimated that there are examples where ideas that at the very least had been ‘inspired’ by my writing on here was actually finding its way into other people’s work. My mate would not elaborate with examples. This is a very serious matter within academia because it goes to the heart of what an academic or scholar is meant to do. It really doesn’t worry me, in the way my mate was talking about it, however. Beyond professional contempt, and even the ethical question of using someone else’s labour for your own purposes, is a bigger problem for me that bankrupts intellectual culture.
My immediate response to my mate was to point out the difference between having the capacity to create and being able to think an idea. Most people who have read a bit of Deleuzean philosophy or maybe some of the secondary literature will be able to understand the sort of posts I write on here and that my mate was talking about. Being able to think ideas and understand the arguments developed here on my blog is of course what I hope will happen. Otherwise there would be little point!
Sure I’ve taken the time to read half a library’s worth of books, as have most people of a similar age with a scholarly disposition, not because I want a job out of it*, but because I actually enjoy reading. I find almost nothing as pleasurable as engaging with the challenge posed by the text; yes, I am an epic geek. (That is what I find so frustrating with some contemporary philosophy in particular, it valorises obvious ideas and seems content to dress up regurgitation. The challenge becomes a bullshit rhetoric of defending a position or term, rather than working towards something.) I feel sorry for those people who do not experience this pleasure (and I meet these people everyday!) as books provide a near infinite resource. When it is someone who has read a whole bunch of stuff, then reads my blog and finds the arguments or points made worthy enough of being included in their own work, but keeps this connection to themselves, I feel there is a far more profound problem than some bullshit to do with whose ideas are used by whom and when.
Intellectual practice is always distributed across many acts of creative thought. Inspiration can come from anywhere. It seems to me that the ‘paranoid’ academic misses out on this. To appropriate ideas is not inspiration, there is little transformative potential in appropriation. An appropriated idea is liquidated of the capacity to bridge between thinkers and the virtual structures of thought assembled by the thinker-architect and the power of their imagination. Imagination is like a muscle, it needs to be exercised, otherwise it atrophies.
*That is not to say that I don’t want to have a proper punt at academia at some point and for me to do that I need to publish. I have started this process of churning out journal articles.
my point was less that you put your ideas and thoughts up here, i enjoy that. rather, that this writing and creativity needs to be shared more in the academic field which you would like to be a part of, too. (and simply to express my love of your work). there has been a strong emphasis on putting your ideas here and less so in other formats that would see them compliment each other eg. academic journals etc. (of course, you are doing this now) – and i think some people could take advantage of that but f*ck em, that was not the point. heaps of us write, say, blogs like this or share ideas in other formats (community sector) but there needs to be to be an equally strong vector through the academic genre, and we always need to keep that in mind. the difficulty as you know too well is time. but also the university as market – my very simple jager bomb fuelled point. IP has become the ‘product’ that academics are now required to trade, leverage, and develop via entrepreneurship. it is sad. (i think i was blurring words by this point in the night) ip output is used to measure you in academia and this short-circuits the inspiration and creativity you write about. and one might be ideologically opposed to this but damned if it isn’t the current state of things and we have to either ‘play the game’ or end up fucking out on our arses, and concomitantly end up not being able to develop ideas and arguments in and physically occupy roles that can change the university sector, that as messed up as it is as a market, can lend ‘weight’ to them and aids dissemination. also, to change this “university as market” we have to be inside the process initially and collectively, unfortunately, as it resists outside pressure – the mechanics and workers in the sector have to physically change as much as anything and rhetorical critique and disgust/shame/sadness is not enough. if we “abandon” the university and say, politically, we should be beyond IP and focus our efforts elsewhere and bugger the consequences is laudible but as hard as it is to hang on in the university sector buggered if i am going to surrender a ground many of us cherish, even though it is now a dogs breakfast thanks to some peoples complicity and exploitation of others modus operandi of generosity.
I am not arguing against the academy!!!!! It was more a lament, to paraphrase your point, about exploiting cultures of generosity and the effect this has on potential intellectual exchange.
but while we’re on it, what is the point of academic publishing besides being purely professional career-based reasons? Is it because of the cultural stigma associated with non-print publishing?
pretty much nada brother, nada. its a joke.
I’ve always thought that it’s not as if we have a limited source of inspiration or ideas or creativity. You’ve always struck me as someone who’s just filled to bursting with ideas, G, so even if your ideas are escaping (or being poached?) and ending up elsewhere, surely there are more where they came from? And it’s kind of nice to see your own ideas coming back, reshaped, jiggled about and obviously useful. Even if they are living with someone else now.
But I also think Clif makes a good point: if you have limited time and energy, then perhaps it’s best to funnel those resources into work that’ll get you money/professional cred/smartypants cred. I guess it’s a matter of priorities: if aca cred is important, then that’s where you put your energy.
I’ve found that even though aca types are interested in my research in a sort of… academic way… I get far more engaged responses from other dancers. And journals and conferences aren’t dance-people places. The internet is. So I’m quite happy pouring stuff out onto the internet.
If you have limited time and energy, though, I guess it really is about priorities.
But I’d be sad if you didn’t post so much on your blog – I’m far more likely to read this stuff here.
So far as oversharing goes, I’ve had people say the same of me. They tend to be blokes. And I usually respond: “Just because I’m talking, doesn’t mean I’m actually _saying_ anything.” I find that making a lot of noise, or saying a lot, is the perfect way of concealing the important stuff. People assume you’re giving it all away if you’re blabbing a lot on the internet.
I’m also a bit confused about the concept of ‘oversharing’. I mean, women are quite likely to tell other women – even strangers – every detail of their personal life. Men can be far less forthcoming. So perhaps it’s more that we have different ideas about ‘sharing’ and how much is too much sharing; if you play your cards close to your chest in every day life, I can imagine that annotating your life online can be scary. But if you’re already a blabberer, the internet simply offers you a far larger pool of potential conversationalists…
Comments are closed.