Gen Y Plagiarism & The Rise Of The Wiki-mentality
- March 1st, 2010
- 2 Comments
As you may have heard, the generational twist on recent discussions around plagiarism is that growing up with a blurry at best understanding of IP boundaries, has bred a new, looser set of standards among Millennials. The media is asking whether this is really just an excuse for poor behavior or a legitimate defense of artistic license in the digital age. But as with the debate around techno-cheating (using a phone or the web to help find answers on a test) and high school students, the ethics of this so-called “literary remixing” trend, a phrase inspired by the German teen novelist [pictured above] in her justification, is not so black and white.
One of the issues here is just the degree that the copy-and-paste function has become second nature to journalists and students (and really everyone) collecting and organizing information found online. In preparing to write this post, for instance, my notes comprised of copied and pasted fragments from articles printed in other publications, statistics from a Common Sense Media survey on teens using technology to cheat and several excerpts from previous Ypulse posts on the topic. From there, rest assured, I responded in my own words and properly cited and linked all of the material above, but it is easy to see where practices like this would lead to a journalist under great pressure and tight deadlines to be tempted to make a questionable judgment call like Gerald Posner. And while the straight up copying of passages is a pretty clear ethical violation, with more and more bloggers learning “on the job” instead of at traditional journalism schools, it’s episodes like these that point to a pressing need to develop and publicize a set of standard new media guidelines that bloggers can be held to, and that high school and college journalism classes could be taught in order to prevent these type of quibbles in the future.
On a wider scale, we know that the way teens and college students are collecting and synthesizing information is changing. And the flip side of this cheating discussion is a new approach towards kinetic learning typified by sites like Wikispaces—a collaborative tool that allows K-12 and higher education faculty connect and engage students with material inside and outside the classroom. Not to mention software like DynamicBooks, the tool unveiled earlier the other week by Macmillan that allows professors to customize and and refine the curriculum with the ability to, “reorganize or delete chapters; upload course syllabuses, notes, videos, pictures and graphs; and perhaps most notably, rewrite or delete individual paragraphs, equations or illustrations.” Needless to say, it’s an exciting time for forward thinkers in education.
That said, as with any uncharted territory there are bound to be some missteps and confusion along the way. However, if these recent incidents (and those aforementioned stats from Common Sense Media that found 42 percent of high school students saying the act of copying text from the web and using it as their own was a either a minor offense or not cheating at all) prove a teachable moment and a platform for digital literacy advocates like Henry Jenkins (see our guest post coverage from the Digital Media and Learning Conference last week) it might prove easier to navigate sooner than later.
J-Schools to the Rescue? (Inside Higher Ed)