Blogging is no academic research


I don’t remember who that was who just whined (again) about not getting attribution “where it is due” – I do have a name in mind but don’t find that damn post now. And after looking for that for three minutes it does not matter anymore, because it is not relevant who it was again.

Chris Pirillo does kind of the same (“The Scoop No Longer Exists. Just less whiny.

I’ve stumbled upon gems over and over again, only to see them surface on more popular sites without necessarily stating that I was the originating source (with timing being of primary significance). It’s not just the blog networks, you guys – it’s the general blogosphere. It’s the want and need that all of us have to make ourselves look more important than we might actually be. We’re trying to show others that we can get the scoop – that we were the first to do something.

In a connected world you do have more than just some friends you can talk to. And unless the scoop you are giving out is just a thing you alone work on, chances are that others talk too. This is not only a matter of “giving credit”. It is also a matter of which information are available where.

If I go through my blog list and have a topic come up over and over again with links to different people, there is no “source” for me when I post about it. And if for example A is a source, B reads about it and posts it’s own inspired post without linking and mentioning and I read only B – then I will not “give credit” for my spin on that to A but to B. Am I then guilty of “not giving credit” too?

Of course not. And I don’t see a reason why I should try to track down in every blog posting where this might have come up before ever, try to connect the dots and suggest at the end of every posting my list like in an academic research.

I’ll give you a “scoop”: I find working academic in order to get a degree in most cases overrated.

I do have a degree which can not directly be translated into an internationally comparable degree. I am a “Wirtschaftsinformatikerin (BA)” and no, that is not a Bachelor there and yes, this is my official title I am allowed to use. I could have made something like a real bachelor or a masters on top of my degree and guess what one big reason is why I will not do it?

Because a high percentage of the time and effort in such a study is going into “working properly academic”. Which means nothing else than “track down who might have said this before in which paper and quote it”. Yes, there is valid academic research in areas like medicine, biology and such where such references have an importance, but in normal business studies?

Yes, there are a few real academics between us, but most of the people who do “academic research” do it to get their degree and publish their thesis. And they hunt down attribution because it looks good, not because it really matters. So why should I spend 3-4 years perhaps part time besides my job “working” this way only to show that I can play the system instead of learn real things?

I much prefer learn about new ideas, new methods etc for the purpose of using them, and expand my knowledge, skill set as well as my horizon instead of learning mainly who once said something about this new idea and after that there was another paper, which lead to … you get the idea. (Would you like me to hunt down which theory it was first that this is a better way of learning and experiencing instead of do a more proper acedemic attribution? I am sure somebody did a paper on that …)

Back to the blogosphere: Because it is so transparent, we do share a global conversation. And in a global conversation it may be of importance to you that everything you said is treated as being original and your brilliant idea. Problem is: There are thousand of brilliant people out there, and millions of very smart ones.

And guess what, chances are big that smart people come to the same conclusions. Have the same ideas. Especially when they share the same interest. I once had a topic where I had another blogger “copying me” in three different postings which where all on a special topic.

We got in touch over another topic and guess what? He never ever had heard of me before and I do believe him. He just took up the same clues as I did and posted about it. And as the topic was very specific, also the choices of words where very likely. It was not about giving credit. But that is not what egos are about, right?

Would I like to see a mention of my name if this posting inspires you to write something about it, even link back? Of course. Everybody likes that and who says otherwise is lying. :) Will I be “hurt” if I read your piece and do not see a mention? Perhaps, if I have the feeling you are really based on this through for example exactly the same lines.

But even if you would use the exact same title, it would not be “my idea”. This is a title of response which absolutely lies in the air for this kind of complaining.

If you want “proper attribution all the time” stop blogging and go into academic circles. You will not get it there either, but if you will write about social media / software, chances are, thousands of people studying this subject will have to quote you …


One Response to “Blogging is no academic research”

  1. strappato says:

    A cobbler should stick to his last. You shouldn’t assess areas that you don’t know.

    Blogging is no academic research. Surely. But not because of the thousands of brilliant people. It’s because blogging needs only basic practical skills. Real science deals with very specific questions and it’s a extremly specialized profession. Just as real business. Propper citiation is important for comprehensibility and trustworthiness of the results. The results should serve as a starting point for new studies.

    To write about social software or digital lifestyle without explaining the sources of figures and assumptions is like get-together and a chat over coffee. It is nice, you will get to know lots of people, but you will hardly find clients and business partners. They have to make their decisions on the basis of sound facts and not on basis of wild collected ideas.