Enlightened Conflict

do you actually know how difficult it is to NOT plagiarize? (as an online writer)

February 12th, 2015


writing deep thoughts cursive

“Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.

Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”


Miguel Angel Ruiz






plagiarism  wordle_600


One of my favorite thinker/writers, Fareed Zakaria, is being skewered for plagiarism <once again>.






In his situation … we are not talking about plagiarizing ideas … or thinking … but rather background to support his points/ideas.



Several blogs, such as conservative media watchdog Newsbusters and the National Review online, spotted similarities between parts of Zakaria’s column and a piece on the same topic in an April issue of the The New Yorker.

The paragraphs in question largely involved descriptions of historical events and context about gun control in America and do not seem anywhere near as serious as other famed plagiarists – such as Jayson Blair at the New York Times and Stephen Glass at the New Republic who made up entire quotes, people and incidents.

But as media websites picked up the story and asked Time for an official comment, Zakaria issued a statement and confessed to his error:




“Media reporters have pointed out that paragraphs in my Time column this week bear close similarities to paragraphs in Jill Lepore’s essay in the April 23rd issue of The New Yorker.


They are right.


I made a terrible mistake.writing an editing


It is a serious lapse and one that is entirely my fault.



I apologize unreservedly to her, to my editors at Time, and to my readers.”



Fareed Zakaria










Here is the deal.



The harsh Truth as it were.



If you write a lot and share thinking it is extremely difficult to not plagiarize.


Let me say again.



Extremely difficult to not plagiarize.






I am not talking about copying someone’s ideas or thinking. And I am not talking about not sourcing a huge gob of research or writing done by someone else.


I am talking about the snippet or paragraph.



How does it happen <you may ask>?



When you research a topic you will inevitably review a large number of articles, some research, certainly some other written pieces and maybe even some blog thoughts from people.


writing the first-draft


Sometimes in building your draft you will copy some of the content into a draft document so you don’t lose the thought.




Sometimes you write a thought down using your own words <although sometimes another writer says something so well it is difficult to say it any better>.



Sometimes the words get used as is. Sometimes you source … and sometimes <without thinking about it too much> you think the thoughts, and words, are so common sense they become almost a ‘public domain’ type thought in your mind.



Sometimes in writing your own thoughts in the final piece you know you will publish you lose track of what is your words and what may have been used by someone else … not with bad intentions but simply because the thoughts seem so unoriginal … it just seems like ‘shit anyone and everyone would say or know.’



I say all this not to justify any sort of plagiarism. I say this simply to say it is sometimes very very difficult to NOT plagiarize <in some form or fashion>.



Here is what I do know for sure.



It is extremely difficult to say something in an original way. Somewhere someone has articulated what you say … in almost the exact same words.



I know that may seem extremely difficult for some writers to accept, or believe, but it is true.



Unless you are a poet … I struggle to think of completely original use of words when someone writes shit like I do on a blog <or even some semi professional writing if you do a lot of it>.






At least original in a consistent way.


I think anyone who writes a lot stumbles across a unique grouping of words to articulate a thought on occasion.



I also tend to believe other writers take not of that momentary flash of word brilliance … and credit you.



But that’s not what I am talking about.


The common is easily ‘plagiarized.’



That’s it.


I was thinking about it.


I wrote a very long detailed thought about plagiarizing before:




< http://brucemctague.com/the-black-white-and-gray-of-plagiarism >




I take plagiarism seriously <always have>.


In addition, I personally, studiously avoid plagiarizing.



That said.



I am also quite sure that I have at some point <unintentionally>.



Hence the reason I wrote and published my caveat on images and words on my site:



http://brucemctague.com/spam-and-images >.

writing shit down



There is no excuse for plagiarizing.




Everyone should note how difficult it can be to NOT plagiarize.

no brilliantly created failures accepted

June 13th, 2014


 outcome zone


“We don’t want to be known for creating brilliantly crafted failures.”

Don Perkins







In business … one of the difficulties in caring about what you do … and how you do it … is that solutions are rarely just a … well … solution.


Inevitably you <at least most people in business> desire to craft a brilliant solution.



Sometimes elegant … sometimes brutal … sometimes sleek … sometimes ponderous … but always brilliantly crafted.


And in doing so the doubters or the challengers in the organization around you attack how it has been crafted … and not whether it will achieve the desired outcome <albeit they will do sounder the guise of ‘concerns it will not do what we need done’>.


They will begin picking apart the crafting and then … well … it is no longer brilliant.



While simplicity is always nice … it is more often not practical <or reality>.


Business is complex.


Solutions tend to be complex.

complex person rubix cube ichi nichi



Solutions often need to be brilliantly crafted.


And, yes, there are some people who get so caught up in building beautiful solutions that they lose sight of reality and purpose … but they are truly in the minority.




We are truly not in the business of building brilliantly crafted failures.



I say this from practical experience because advertising agencies, in particular, are always being pointed at and slammed for just being creative and not caring about the business, i.e., “all you want to do is wacky advertising.”



And every time I hear someone say this … I think it is the silliest thing I have ever heard.

Maybe even the stupidest thing I have ever heard.



I know for sure I want to say how dumb that comment is.



That is why I like what my friend, and a great creative director, said. He took the high road. Brilliance in craft and results are not mutually exclusive.


In this concise statement he says we will always seek brilliantly crafted creative solutions … but always with the intent to drive results … to attain the objective … to fulfill its purpose.


The only people who truly only care about brilliantly crafted solutions <and not about purpose or outcome> are hacks.

They are business people who don’t understand stimulus response … or cause and effect … or any kind of ‘creating attitudes to generate a specific behavior’ thought process.

In other words.

They are hacks.


Let me be clear.


There is no credible marketing or advertising agency in the world that doesn’t understand they are in the business of creatively generating business.


No debate.


This does not mean they will always get it right.


And that is where brilliantly crafted solutions really run into trouble.love 5 complexities What If love


Because people confuse ‘complicated’ & ‘brilliantly crafted.’


Far too many people will <most often in hindsight> suggest the solution was too complicated or that ‘we didn’t need to craft it that way’ and begin creating a thread of doubt in the value of brilliantly crafted solutions.

And in today’s business world it is very easy to do this.


In a business environment when people want to ‘point & shoot’ and ‘go with your gut’ and ‘if it isn’t simple enough it won’t work.’



Unfortunately … sometimes those trite ‘business semi-truths’ just do not work.


Organizations are big randomly moving fragments swirling within some confines of a purpose <only tangible in that most often they can be found in buildings with neat conference rooms and walls and a big window or two>.



Consumers <or people in general> make organizations look almost stagnant in comparison. Perceptions, attitudes & behaviors don’t just swirl … it is more like sheer chaos with some random moments where they coalesce into some amoeba like semi-formed object … only to explode into new small life forms and roam all over again.



Brilliantly crafted solutions create a cohesive moment.

Brilliantly crafted solutions bring a sense of order to chaos.

Brilliantly crafted solutions are solidly consistent yet adaptable as it comes to Life.


brilliant beBrilliantly crafted solutions are complex.



And they are often complex because … well … they are brilliant.





I say all this because no good business person is ever in the business of creating brilliantly crafted failures.



And I tend to believe more of us should be interested in the ‘creating brilliantly crafted’ portion. We tend to quickly focus on ‘success’ <versus failure> and results moreso than crafting something brilliant.



This implies all journeys to the destination are of equal value.


Nothing could be further from the truth.



We cannot always create a brilliantly crafted solution … I know that. But we should be almost always at least seeking it.


Not all solutions are created equal.brilliant dont be delicate


Not all successes are created equal.




None of us should be in the business of creating brilliantly crafted failures but all of us should be in the business of creating brilliantly crafted successes.




Enlightened Conflict