Michael Barbaro, in the New York Times, has written an article that addresses how Wal-Mart and bloggers are joining ranks to spread the gospel of Wal-Mart! Amen. In this article, we are told that a Wal-Mart employee, Marshall Manson, who is also a Blogger, writes email messages to bloggers who are receptive to Wal-Mart’s Plight (ah, yeah right!) offering them tips and information that they cannot get from the mainstream Media or MSM (Thanks Barbaro, I didn’t know that one yet). Part of the issue explored in this story is that many receivers of these emails are simply cutting and pasting the information in their posts without saying where they got the information.
Ok, summary out of the way. Now, let’s talk about this crap! First, commercialism in the blogsphere. I am not a purist nor am I some kind of spiritual blog nut—but I hate, absolute hate, the idea of bloggers, blogging for big business. You want to know why TV really sucks anymore? It is because “Big Business” has bought up the rights and is now calling the shots. Big business is also buying shares in education, advertising to our children in their elementary school cafeterias and the hall and in the colleges where they can, in some cases, help determine the curriculum—does this not worry you?? Do you really want Wal-Mart and others to determine your blog entry, help shape what you can say or simply to do the saying for you????
On a practical note, in the article we are told that bloggers are not compensated in any way, nor are they pressured into using the material sent to them in their blog posts. However, I have a question for you slaves of commercialism – why they hell do this for free? Come on! As Barbaro mentioned, Wal-Mart made over $300 billion dollars last year in sales! Are you really worried that much about poor, defenseless, Wal-Mart that you will consent to sell you soul for free?? If you are going to sell you soul, I say get something for it! That is the consumerist way, is it not? That is the free-market motto and you, poor saps, are being used for nothing, being sucked dry for free! You are giving your soul away on a silver platter, saying, here, poor, defenseless, innocent Wal-Mart, please let me advertise for you for free—I feel so bad that you did not make over $400 billion in sales last year! Let me help you and together we will garnish you $666 billion in profits!
Next, the plagiarism aspect that Barbaro talks about. Is this really plagiarism? Why not just cut and paste the information from the email directly into a post and neglect to say who it came from? That’s what free information is all about, right? That’s what the internet is for, right? Didn’t I hear that Shakespeare was notorious for “borrowing” other people’s work? Yes, you saps, you slaves, you thiefs, copying and pasting and publishing without offering credit to the original author is stealing, plagiarism, and is not fair advertising practices. People should know who the author was, where the information came from. Did the information come directly from Wal-Mart or from a competitor? Did it come from Barbara Jones down the street, the same Barbara who reads people magazines and eats bonbons while watching re-runs of Gilligan’s Island? Or did it come from a Public Affairs person from Wal-Mart? Truth in advertising is important and so is not ripping-off other people’s work. Christ, I graded about 55 journals last week and caught 2 people stealing directly from Sparknotes.com and two people “co-authoring” work and passing it off as their own individual efforts—THEY WERE WRITING ABOUT ETHICS AND JUSTICE. I suspect that each case, well maybe not the folks who simply lifted the article from Sparknotes.com, did not know it was wrong. Well, let me clear this up for all of you out there in the blogsphere—IT IS WRONG! DON’T DO IT.
Ok, I am done venting. I am now taking deep breaths, clearing my head so I can write an ORIGINAL paper filled with ORIGINAL ideas on how we can promote a progressive cosmopolitical democracy from a collective standpoint. I promise to cite all my quotes (duh?) and give credit where credit is due. Peace. R
UPDATE: In the light of being fair, please see the below links of those Bloggers who hold a different view from myself and have found themselves involved with this story, on one level or another—all of which I have read today. Each of them has a right to have their side of the story told and Brian Pickrell, at Iowa Voice, has a good point that Blogger “quote boxes” are the same as quoting—but are they the same as citing?