You know when you were at school and someone tried to copy your work? No, nor do I, though I must confess I sort of nicked that line from DQ.
But I know lots about being the kid at school who was trying to peer over the shoulder of the boffin type chap who knew all the answers. I know all about taking someone's idea, trying to improve on it and then taking it forward. It's kind of what I, maybe most of us, do in life.
My Company was built on an idea that someone else had, my music these days is all covers; playing other people's songs, but the biggest expression of my copycat nature is the indisputable and unforgivable fact that I don't make my own clothes. No, I exclusively wear clothes that have been designed and made by other people.
Yet I'm a believer in the power of creativity. Edward de Bono believes that we spend too much time and effort concentrating on critical thinking and not enough on the creative side. He says, or has said, that it's wrong that we teach our kids to look at things, to analyse and criticise the (critical thinking) much more than we teach them how to come up with new ideas, thoughts and concepts (creative thinking).
K (the 12 yr old) had been put on this programme at her school for "gifted and talented" kids. It's something that hasn't surprised anyone who knows her, it probably doesn't surprise you if you believe everything you may have read about her. Part of this programme is a section called critical thinking, on which they assess, analyse and criticise things. I remain dubious of the value of this.
Well I'm with De Bono on the matter. I'm a fan of his and have read many of his books. Some might say it's unfair that he doesn't read my blog. Some might say that, had he read the posts on my blog about K, he'd think differently anyhow. I prefer to take the abundant approach and not be angry, or even critical of the esteemed thinker.
My view is that the effect of creating, the force of positive thought and ideas is massive and powerful. That's why I bleat on so much about positivity and get Darwin frustrated sometimes. Fundamentally I think it's much easier to take someone's idea and to critique it to death than it is to come up with the thing in the first place.
People who criticise the fuck out of things just piss me off. Then I get all confused. That Maharajah fellow is a prime example, though I'm unsure if he or she is still around. I genuinely thought he/she was very funny and very clever with words and humour. I also genuinely thought he/she has taken the easy option by merely mocking the people with the creativity. A dichotomy that seems to occur all too often in my mind.
My rambling introduction takes me, in a rambling way, to my point, which true to form, is more of a string hopper shaped point than a needle sharp one.
You see I've recently come across a few blogging related things that appear to me to be "influenced" by things I've done. One of them is an idea I had, though I didn't really have it, more adapted it. The other is a blog on which the blogger seems to be copying my writing style. This is a major issue for me as I never even thought I had a writing style until I caught myself reading the blog and wondering who it reminded me of.
I find myself torn between mindsets in this.
On the one mind I know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I was so shocked and surprised when I read Indi's post about the top 100 clicks on Kottu that I let out a couple of little involuntary clouds of flavour from the bottle opener area. But, one of the nice things about getting some readers is that some people may be a little bit influenced by my blog. I really, really don't want to sound like I'm blowing my own trumpet here at all, largely because drums are my thing.
I read the Blackers (both of them), the Indicas, the Javas and the T's of the Sri Lankan blogging world and pick up tips from their writing and their styles. In music I think and I hope that my drumming comes through as a mixture of the great drummers whom I've been influenced by over the years. I wouldn't want to sound like just one drummer, though there are thousands of great drummers whose ability and talent I'd give my left arm for. (You'll notice how I've resisted the urge to chuck in a Def Leppard joke here)
I guess anything I write on my blog is a development of everything I've ever read in my life and is influenced by all that has gone before me. So I should, and I am, flattered if I see someone that looks as if they've been influenced by something I've done.
Then, on the other mind I get a bit Colonel Sanders over things and feel protective over my recipe. This other mind thinks things about the fact that I actually put in a lot of effort to my little chunk of the blogosphere, that being this funny is something I take very seriously and it's a bit out of order when someone blatantly copies something I've done.
The big question for me is the one that has the big answers;
Where does one draw the line between flattering imitation and plain old rip off copying?
Thoughts on this would be most welcome.