Until I was invited to be a contributor to the most respected peer-reviewed play-related academic journal, which is available both in print subscription and free online form, I had not seriously faced up to the issue of blog citation. Modesty prevents me from naming it, but I can say that the paper will be a version of my barnstorming presentation at the ‘Play in an Age of Austerity’ conference in May of this year.
Here’s the issue: frequently, now that my fame has spread far and wide*, I am asked whether I can quoted, and how. The answer is broadly ‘yes but’.
I’m always flattered, and helpful, I like to think, and I have invented my own version of something I now realise already exists in the form of the Chicago Manual of Style Online, a form of words with which to quote me in your essay or article.
Some jackanapes assume that my bloggings are free in the sense of beer; allow me to intone that they most assuredly are not, a perspective which my legal advisers are most anxious to assert on my behalf. Help is at hand, however, for from those lovely boffins at ‘GNU’ who have a useful take on this which, in the spirit of their ‘free’ I’m going to modify here. They say: “Thus, ‘free software’ is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of ‘free’ as in ‘free speech,’ not as in ‘free beer’.
”A program is free software if the program’s users have the four essential freedoms:
“The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.“
So, taking a rough stab at it (draft 0.1)
Four essential freedoms of the ethical blogger and crucially the blog reader:
# The freedom to quote the work (blog, essay, whatever), for any purpose (freedom 0).
# The freedom to study how the ideas work, and contextualise it so it does something for you (freedom 1).
Access to the online text is a precondition for this.
So that rules out paid, locked PDF, copy-blocked PDF or paper-only publication) – example: if I take an anecdote of m’esteeemed colleague Joel Seath, quote it in full, provide his URL and THEN ASK his permission and meet his conditions before I proceed to share it with students on my training courses.
# The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
What we used to do when we photocopied something, in full, with the source indicated.
# The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the online text is a precondition for this.
Informing the original author and sharing your full online text is also both polite, wise and should be a precondition, IMHO.
You might, if you were grandiose, call these The Blogwork Principles.
You may wonder what has evoked this blog. You may also, wonder why Arthur doesn’t blog more. The two are related. What provoked this was yet another, not unreasonable, request for help with obtaining my writings from a fastidious student, arriving in the same ‘time frame’ as the deadline for my aforementioned paper.
My fortuitous discovery of the GNU and Chicago wisdoms, in the context of my invitation to contribute to an admirable and admirably accessible journal has enabled me to perhaps find a way through this thicket.
I feel that I have a partial answer to the conundrum: ‘how do I share my work without being exploited, plagiarised or sidelined?”
Or to put it annuver way, bruv/bruvess: How can I respec’ with the good while blanking the bad, innit?
~ ~ ~
*for which read ‘, occasionally one of my few readers,’