Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More on "email interview" invites, and a note on plagiarism

I still get a lot of requests to interview people, review books, and the like. 
  
Even with my measured level of “public success”, I can appreciate what a hiring manager going through resumes deals with. The fact is, even with non-spam, there are so many emails that with most of them I get as far as two seconds on the subject line, and maybe ten seconds to look at the message if I even open it.  Imagine if I were a manager filling a position.
  
The problem with a lot of what I get is that it is too “narrow”.  What doesn’t work, for me at least, is “playing victim”, or claiming that some group of self-help steps will make your life all right, or that there is some formula to save the world.  No, some trick to avoid being seen by the NSA will not, by itself, get my attention either.
  
I simply don’t like to be recruited, and I don’t recruit people.  This sounds like the old “winning converts” v. “winning arguments” – a debate within the Libertarian Party of Minnesota around 1998.  Those days of ballot-access petitioning, which women were better at than men, come to mind.
  
Of course, some people would see my original focus as “narrow”.  In the 1990s, the “gays in the military” issue (leading to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, repealed in 2011) seemed very narrow to most people in a world – pardon me, a country, the US, for some other countries like Israel have it -- without compulsory military service.  But the big issues blew right out of this core like blossoms:  forced intimacy, social cohesion, participating in sharing risks, and even “being scoped”.  A lot of that energy has moved over to debate on key Internet issues today (like downstream liability).  9/11 and various other crises (including financial) have certainly given value to my original attention to this issue.
  
One other thing.  There has been a case where a blog posting of mine just mentioning the now ended CWTV series “Smallville” (Jan. 13, 2014) got plagiarized.  The blog that plagiarized might be viewed as a spam in some circles, or it might not be.  I can imagine rationalizations for what was done.  To find more details on my take on it, go to my new “doaskdotellnotes.com” site, which is accessed on my “doaskdotell.com” main page (Jan. 28). 
  
Actually, I’ve seen plenty of snippets of my movie reviews on other sites before (finding them when I Google my name with the name of a movie in a “long tail” search – as compared to a head search), and never paid much attention until yesterday.
  
What’s clear is that “selling yourself” on the Internet is a variable experience.  Some people have to make a living on the web, and are very sensitive to copyright infringement, and may go close to the line in committing it themselves.  They may say that they have families to support when I don’t.  Other people might benefit from the exposure that “plagiarism” gives them.  That’s particularly the case if people have income from other sources (including conventional investments in securities) that they can plow into self-publishing to say exactly what they want.  In this sense, capitalism is still a good thing for free speech.  But the rules seem to lie in the beholder.   
   
On the “email interview” invitation, Washington Post columnist Tim Lee recently tweeted that he gets them and that high school English teachers are assigning interviews as homework.  He thinks this is not a good idea, for a teacher implicitly to invite journalists to help high school students do their thinking for them on theme assignments.  I agree.  I wondered about this when I substitute-taught, and people found my writings online.  Would I be copied for homework assignments?  Maybe I was.  But there is “turn it in” software

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