Friday, December 2, 2011

More on Modern Source Amnesia

How hard is it to cite the source of a clever aphorism? Apparently, pretty hard.

Yesterday Jason Kottke, who considers himself a professional link finder, noted the recent proliferation of tweets and retweets of this pithy reworking of a common bit of self-help advice:

Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank and he can rob the world.
I think I've seen it a few dozen times on Twitter and Facebook, all unattributed.

Kottke reports that it originated with a Twitter user named Bonoboism, whose profile says "Bonoboism is a spiritual doctrine based on the social behavior of the bonobo--matriarchy, liberal sexual behavior, egalitarianism, some vegetarianism, pacifism."

Examples like this (and an earlier tweet-anonymization of a guy named Joel Housman) remind me how hungry we seem to be for any bit of cleverness, and how hard it is for a saying to stay connected to its author. It only takes a few people repeating it without the author's name before the unattributed saying runs around the world multiple times.

Is it so much to ask that people get credit for their words? Nobody wants to pay for writing any more, it seems, but they can at least be acknowledged for it. Geez.

1 comment:

Ms Sparrow said...

I reposted the Bonoboism tweet on my facebook page and attributed it to that tweeter (tweetist?). It is clever enough that it needs to be repeated.