We are all derivatives of someone else. It can’t be helped. Musicians have roots in other musical traditions, even if it’s not obvious at first. Nirvana is heavily Beatles-influenced, for instance. Authors are unique-twist copies of other authors. It’s just the way of the world, and how humans evolve.
Recently, I saw a few posts from folks that felt a lot like my posts rewritten a little bit. Now, writing about something that I’m talking about and adding to the conversation is awesome. Rewriting something pretty closely to my own words on your site is probably a little less pleasant to run across. Coincidentally, it looks like David Armano might’ve felt that way, too today. (UPDATED David’s name because I somehow put Darren in a sleepy moment- thanks, Ike).
But it got me thinking about me. I’m inspired by others, and derive some of my skills and abilities from what I’ve learned from others, so instead of bitch about someone copying my stuff, I’m going to praise some people that I have learned from in developing my own presence. (None of this is to blow smoke up these people’s butts. I know most of them. I like most of them. This is about me, and about what goes into the media I make).
- Robert Scoble – I copied the idea of putting my cell number on my site from Robert. Flat out took it for my own, because Robert has proven that it’s a great way to reach out. Robert’s inspired me in other ways, but that’s the most obvious.
- Guy Kawasaki – Not Guy’s blog, but Guy. When I first saw him at a Boston Computer Society event talking about the release of the upcoming Apple Macintosh, I turned to my Dad and said that I wanted to be like Guy. (I seem to recall my Dad telling me that was a bad job idea, but maybe I’m making that up).
- Tom Peters – Not the blog, but Tom. I like his crazy energy and passion. I love his books. I believe a lot of what he says and I use it.
- Annie Proulx – author of The Shipping News. I love her terse style, and use it often in my writing.
- Jeremiah Owyang – I’ll be honest and say pre-Forrester Jeremiah was a little more fun to read, but I like what he’s doing now, too, and I won’t knock him for that. I guess I just admire his coverage of his space, and aspire to do more like that.
- Jon Swanson – From Jon, I get my thinking about storytelling reminders. Jon is a great storyteller. He has a wonderful way of framing things. I’m grateful to that for reminding ME to tell stories.
I could keep going. You could, too.
My big point: none of us are originals. It’s okay. And I’ve DEFINITELY done it myself, where I’ve thought something WAS my thought, only to find out that I was synthesizing something I read a few days back, or a conversation I had (Did that famously badly once, to a friend I love, and had to rescind).
But if you KNOW you’re going to riff off someone, give a little link love and be done with it. Fair?