Streetwise Professor

December 3, 2013

I Call Total Rip-Off on Jen Rubin

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Professor @ 12:58 pm

I am somewhat used to getting material from SWP ripped off.  The Economist did it a couple of times early on in the history of this blog, and other less eminent writers/bloggers have done it subsequently.  But seldom have I seen such a total expropriation-of Russian Yukos-like proportions-as this piece by Jennifer Rubin at the WaPo.  The title and main metaphor of the piece.  The substance of the analysis.  Blatant and shameless.

I give away what I write here.  (Some may say that’s a fair price.)  I am more than pleased when people quote what I write.  Indeed, that’s the primary compensation for the time and effort that I devote: I write so that my ideas, such as they are, get discussed and disseminated and yes, criticized.  The ethical expectation is that credit be given.  It doesn’t cost a thing.  Except, perhaps, for those who are so insecure and desperate to be thought of as creative and perhaps under pressure to produce new content day after day that they take from others without attribution.

There’s a right way to do this.  Felix Salmon and I have had disagreements, in public via our respective blogs.  But he gives a respectful hearing to what I say, attributes it plainly (with links), and characterizes it fairly.  John Kemp (also of Reuters) is another example.

And then there’s the Jennifer Rubin way.

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  1. Is there something specific to the Jennifer Rubin piece that shows she could only have written it because of your earlier blogpost? Otherwise simply using the Potemkin village analogy isn’t enough. It’s an obvious analogy, and the facts speak for themselves. Unlike more complicated and esoteric subjects like derivatives trading or the inner working of the bond market, plenty of people can come up with it independently. One doesn’t need detailed and expertise knowledge. Criticizing Obamacare’s website is on the low knowledge end of punditry; one that probably precocious high schoolers can come up with their own as well (if one commented on the inner workings of the insurance markets, that may be different). It is also very much a hot topic right now, and most pundits are expected to comment on it. Repeated allusions of the Ukrainian protests to the 2004 Orange Revolution is for the same reason, it’s not because one writer figured it out, and everyone stole from that writer.

    Comment by Chris — December 3, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

  2. Professor:

    Vlad tries to attribute to all sources. As you know, spying is similar to theft.

    But not in the dissemination of the information, however.

    Vlad will try to be more mindful in the future.

    Comment by Vlad — December 3, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

  3. She should use a mask and a gun.

    I hope you pointed this out to her editors.

    Comment by Tom Henderson — December 3, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

  4. Her comment after she morphed to a goth biker Mohawk chick, and immediately before she stabbed Freddy with a switchblade, will live forever, “Okay asshole let’s dance.” I sure didn’t know she was a Neocon.

    Comment by pahoben — December 5, 2013 @ 9:33 am

  5. I gave up on Rubin quite a while ago. But, in this case, what she wrote is essentially all over the Internet. She raises the same problems multiple other sites raise. I have been hearing the term “Potemkin village” regarding the web site for quite a while. Just about every one who notes the developers concentrated on the user experience bu neglect to fix anything with the back end uses the term “Potemkin village”, meaning the web site is a facade and not a building.

    Comment by Rick Caird — December 6, 2013 @ 10:07 am

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