Some days ago I received a Facebook message that asked me to confirm Moshe is “owner” of the blog Shores of the Dirac Sea. Which I did and while at it, I too joined that Facebook blog network, upon which I had to pick 9 people from my friends list to confirm I “own” this blog. Among the ones I picked was Tommaso, the Quantum Diaries Survivor from next door. We got into a conversation about the question of blog ownership, a term that he seemed to find similarly bizarre as I do, and I thought it would be interesting to hear your opinion on that too.
Sure, I am writing this blog - well, most of it. But do I own it? One could equally well argue it is owned by Google. The only meaning of ownership that makes sense to me is that this blog is public property. Everybody who writes a blog knows what (s)he is doing when clicking on the “publish” button. It means your thoughts go out there, into the wild open.
Now don't get me wrong, of course I am pissed off if somebody uses my writings without paying credits to me. But if I write something where this aspect is of major importance I publish it such that I have a copyright on intellectual property. However, plagiarism doesn't seem to happen all that often even on blogs. For one, most people are actually honest and don't claim originally where there was none. Instead, over the years, we have had several requests to reprint articles or figures, to use quotations, and have been asked how to properly cite a blog post. But besides this, the very reason that blog posts are public provides safety through recognition of copies by readers. The more readers you have, the more likely one of them is to come across and recognize a plagiarism and notify you.
An effect much more interesting than actual copies and quotations however are follow-up threads were people continue a discussion that was initiated elsewhere. This pinging back and forth of thoughts through the blogosphere is as far as I am concerned one of the best aspects of it. What matters in the end however is the emergence of the discussion itself, not who owns it.