The reason why I’m so passionate, obstinate, difficult, helpful, informative, obnoxious (I get them all) about the way people treat online content comes down to this:
This community is a valuable place. And I refuse to listen to anyone who says that the internet is public domain. Even if you hear it from your best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl….It’s not.*
Sometimes content does make money. That doesn’t make it more or less respectable. Ask many people what their proudest accomplishments are in life and they’re often personal, not profitable.
I am not a perfectionist (seriously, I’m not), I am not expecting people to be able to do everything by the book all the time (myself included). We all make mistakes. I do all the time. (Write this down somewhere you can see it: Failure is an event, never a person. – William D.Brown)
What I can’t stand, what can’t strive for, is mediocrity.
This does not apply to all areas of life. I rarely floss, a treadmill is just a place to drape laundry yet to be put away and if I don’t like a book I won’t finish it simply to finish it.
But I expect that we all shoot for the moon when it comes to respecting one another’s work and our own.
This is what I believe: if you aim for doing the minimum, you’ll probably achieve even less. Because the fact is, whatever expectations we have for ourselves, they’re often hard to meet.
Set your standards high and you’ll come out having done the best you could. The best intentions were there. In most cases there is something that must give, however small, but something that we had not foreseen or planned for happens and our initial vision is different than the final product. Sometimes the less than perfect is better than our great expectations.
I don’t do well when the goal is to simply do what’s required to get by. That’s when people stop caring about the things they do.
Some people consider me difficult when what I am saying requires them to think twice about the way they’re behaving online. I wish that the concept of respecting copyright and giving credit where it is due wasn’t something that needed to be discussed in the first place.
Currently, I’m finishing up what has gone from something fun and informative and entertaining to something I affectionately call my Science Fair Project: my Pinterest boards.
I took down over a thousand pins, and I’m working to source everything I have and be sure I have the right to put it there. I don’t particularly like what Pinterest’s TOS are. But I am determined to say that it is possible to pin in a way that is ethical. It still means I think Pinterest needs to do better. It still means I want them to do more. But I want people to see that while I believe in respecting the rights of content creators, I don’t think that it’s all or nothing. There are content creators who want to be there, but it has to be an opt-in not an opt-out mentality. Ask permission. Assume nothing.
I’m not a lawyer and I am not perfect, so I cannot guarantee that there won’t be errors. But I’m quite confident these boards are playing by the rules. I just wish Pinterest would, too.
I’m not always well received when I tell someone, in earnest, that the content they curate or the site they own is hurting people in some way. Some are of the opinion that blog posts and photos and paintings and designs are like confetti to be sprinkled around to decorate the web.
Sure, confetti is pretty. I love it. And glitter, too. But have you ever tried to clean it up? It’s a freaking mess. Not as bad as glitter, but it’s a runner up.
I make analogies because I feel like we need tangible examples to help people understand that content isn’t less valuable online.
I make analogies because the ones often offered to me in defense of the internet as a free-for-all in the name of good exposure** generally don’t make sense.
And I will fight analogy with analogy if need be. But I really don’t want any fights. I really want to say to a stranger, “Excuse me, you’re using something that’s not yours, please stop.” And have them reply, “I made a mistake. I’m going to fix that.” They don’t owe me a thank you, they don’t owe me anything. But they do owe the people whose content they’re misusing or could possibly be misused that courtesy.
Take it down if you don’t have explicit permission to use it, post it, pin it, print it. Everything has rules. Even having no rules requires a rule that there is no rules.
*peppering bloggy netiquette with Ferris Bueller references, don’t mind if I do).
**always, always be wary of “good exposure”