[W]e abide by the principle which dictates that somebody will always position himself or herself to systematically harvest anything of value in this world for the sake of money, power and/or ego-fulfillment. We aim to be that somebody.
I read that quote tonight in Chapter One: Put Everything Out There of Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, And Why It Matters by Scott Rosenberg. It’s from the manifesto of suck.com, a site started in 1995 by Chapter One’s protagonist Justin Hall.
Hall was to his medium, the nascent internet of the late 80s and early 90s, what Barbara Mandrell was to hers: he was blogging when blogging wasn’t cool. In fact, his combo diary/link fest style of home paging in the first part of the last decade is credited in the book as the internet’s first blog.
And his Mad Magazine like manifesto is dripping with irony. But it also speaks a universal truth. Taking the easy way out is… well, the easy way out. It’s what most people will do. That’s why they call it the easy way. Attempting to profit off of someone else’s labor, whether physical or mental, has always been around, always will be.
Made me think of something Houston criminal lawyer Mark Bennett said recently:
I don’t know why, but I would have expected someone who, like Melina Benninghoff, reads this blog to have the good sense not to steal posts.
I doubt Bennett thought Benninghoff actually read his posts; after all he came up with the phrase “outsource your marketing, outsource your ethics” to describe the situation. Indeed, it turns out some jagoff was hired to help Ms. Benninghoff’s web presence, and the IP theft is explained. (I’m not saying it’s justified; but it’s not surprising either.)
Shortly after leaving my customary smartass/snarky comment to Mark’s post, I actually phoned Ms. Benninghoff’s office to ask why she wasn’t scraping my posts, but I ended up leaving a message on her assistant’s phone. (I blame Greenfield for my attempted prank; he recently reminded me how fun phone conversations can be.) Given all the blogging and twittering on the subject over the holiday weekend, I’m not holding my breath for a return phone call.
But splogs don’t really bother me. Sure, it’s theft when it happens. And the thief, duh, shouldn’t be thieving. But I don’t think lawyers who splog, or who pay others to splog for them, are getting a particularly good ROI for their efforts, whether someone calls them out on it or not.
For one thing, as Mark’s original post on the subject points out, the blog looks like crap. Not all splogs are so amatuer, but apparently it takes more effort than most internet thieves can muster to master the art of plausible deniability.
And I’ve been a “victim” of them as a well. Several times over. One time I set a trap for the splogger. No one else may have noticed it, but frankly the end result amused rather than angered me. Another time being scraped got me mentioned on overlawyered.com.
Bottom line: no one, lawyer or otherwise, will benefit from splogging. Not that I mind other folks in the practical blawgosphere calling them out on it when they do.