I was really looking forward to reading Jeff Bullas’s ‘Blogging the Smart Way’ that I had downloaded. I was sure that there would be some worthwhile insights and some fresh lessons to be learnt. He did a pretty convincing job of setting up why reading this book was ‘for you’ be that you were an entrepreneur, author, musician, business owner, programmer, corporate executive or marketer ‘working on a big idea’. That is a rather wide range and other than including a clown, politician or economist, has securely set-up the call, “all bases covered”.
After briefly exploring ‘what is a blog’ Bullas goes on to share how he grew his own readership to 300 000 per month. Yes, you read that correctly, 300 000 people per month read what Bullas has to say in his blogs. In fact Bullas isn’t shy to reveal that he also has ‘nearly 100 000’ Twitter followers and that he has been named as one of the top 50 social media power influences on Forbes.com -coming in at number 14 on that listing. Oh yes, and he gets paid to speak at events and conferences around the world. Big ‘wow’ isn’t it but I suspect you sense something sinister lurking in my appraisal.
You would be right.
It was Chapter 4 when the wheels fell off. The chapter is titled: ’12 Blogging Essentials and Getting Started’ where Bullas explores the theme of motivation. In doing so he proceeds to quote (almost verbatim) from Dan Pink, the author of Drive and TED speaker. The section was immediately recognizable as I have watched and used the Dan Pink TED clip many times, finding it one of the most compelling narratives on why we need to rethink many of the current management practices within business. Here I was reading familiar words that make a compelling case, without any form of acknowledgement of their source. I checked again and couldn’t find any reference to the fact that this was in fact Pink’s work and not that of blogger Bullas.
So, my first thought in Bullas defence was that maybe, just maybe, Pink was the plagiariser and not Bullas. I can’t prove that this isn’t the case but the likelihood is that print would ordinarily imitate the spoken word. Given that the section in Bullas’ book is almost a carbon copy of what Pink verbalizes would seemingly indicate that he (Bullas) is not the originator.
My second defence for Bullas was that he simply did not know he was plagiarizing Pink’s thoughts and words. This is possible but again unlikely given the almost exact nature of the phrasing in his book.
It is said that there is ‘nothing new under the sun’ and certainly whatever ‘new insight’ or idea you come up with, the chances are that someone else somewhere has beaten you to it. In TomorrowToday we regard ourselves as an ‘intellectual property’ company and as such put a huge amount of effort into ‘originating ideas’ and rethinking and reworking well worn business themes and practices. We also work hard at giving credit to others whose work has contributed to that of our own or perhaps influenced how we arrive at a certain destination. In fact the destination of others often serves as our own starting point.
When I came across Bullas’ use of Pink’s words without any form of acknowledgment whatsoever I must admit my motivation to finish his book went down the toilet. Blogging requires integrity and should be no different to the integrity that marks the world of literature. Certainly it may not follow form in this regard but it doesn’t mean one can take credit for work that is not one’s own.
I will be interested to see what Bullas has to say about this as I have no doubt this blog will somehow find it’s way to his inbox. I hope he has a reasonable explanation and in so doing is able to restore my hope. Failing that, I hope he has the courage to acknowledge his error – for which of us has not made a mistake in the mess that is the publishing world – be that formal or informal?
The book? Well apart from what tripped me up it offers a practical and worthwhile insight into the world and practice of blogging. I am sure you will find it helpful and engaging. After all, someone with 300 000 readers must know a thing or two about the subject!
(And just in case you were wondering: when we make use of Pink’s TED talk it is with the full acknowledgement of it’s source with massive promotion of both the TED Talks as well as Pink’s work. In fact I wish I had shares in the sale of his book Drive given how many copies I must have contributed in selling!)